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

Advertisements

The Primal Challenge Day 17

Just over halfway there, and I am well and truly in a mid season slump. Today I ate three pieces of fruit and wanted more. I’m stuffing nuts down my throat like it is my last day on earth and despite having a piece of frittata and a cup of smoothie for breakfast, my mind tells me I am hungry by 11. Which there is no way I should be – I’m not even training and getting up an hour later!!

Now some of you might be rolling your eyes thinking wow, three pieces of fruit… but the recommendation is two per day and I gauged, and I’m not sure if it classifies as a challenge fail, so I’m overly disgusted and upset with myself.

Ok so the pieces were small, watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew. It was a shared fruit platter, so not like I ate the entire lot, but I did feel guilty.

Ok so I’m leaving out the 10 red grapes I also ate.

See – mid season slump.

I only had my lunch three hours ago and I’m hungry again.

Plus –only a few days ago I was walking around promoting my clean skin thanks to my clean eating and almost throwing away the dry shampoo. As if to prove a point, or perhaps in protest, my chin is riddled with blackheads and teenage acne and my hair on day two is in a high ponytail and heavily sprayed.

I know I was a late bloomer in high school, but this is ridiculous! Are my cravings and withdrawal symptoms coming so much later than first prescribed? Or am I a victim of some other bout of hormone tampering!?

Either way, day 17 is no fun.

Not that I am ready to throw in the clean eating towel, it’s just damp on the rack, hanging loosely and not really smelling the best.

I’ve decided I need a pick me up to get my mind off the fact I have to spend hours making a Christmas pudding full of things I can’t eat for our Christmas in July dinner this Saturday night, by making lots of things that I can.  And because I am still struggling with my sweet tooth, tonight it will be frosty fruit smash (if I can find almond butter) and the holy-moly banana pancakes (again if I can find almond butter).

I also had my meat delivered today to work by Canning’s – including the paleo bacon. Score.  I couldn’t wait for the weekend and their birthday discount celebration and knew I would get more stuff then anyway, so stocked up – and by the weight in the bag (I had to take the lift) I might have again gone a little overboard.

Time to re-calibrate the grocery bill budget.

But I know that bag of goodness holds my lamb shanks and ribs ready for two new primal recipes just in time for Thursday and Friday night and the cold weather we are meant to be expecting.  I’ll even prep the slow cooker tonight ready for the ribs tomorrow.

Tomorrow I can FINALLY go back to some sort of training and exercise (thank the thighs) which should also peck me up a little.

Actually as I am writing this and thinking about all the great things I can make and then eat, my mood is somewhat increasing to almost positive and I think I can feel the first shakings of my slump.

Don’t get too excited, my skin is still saw and red from when I tried to push the puss out of it in front of the work bathroom mirror.

Maybe I’ll even make my own almond butter….

1074975_10200557367031530_1062512971_o

The Primal Challenge Day 16

I had another strange dream last night. Not about food this time, but I still feel the reference was there. I was on a tram but on the outside of it, standing on the railings like it was an old fashioned carriage you would still see on the streets of San Francisco. The tram was on a hill, had just come to a stop at the very top.

The stranger next to me had stopped the tram by pulling up the old fashioned handle; it swayed and tilted a little, tiptoeing over the edge of the hill facing the steep decline below, rocking on the old hinges and tracks.

There were people in front of me, people I knew, standing in front of the tram, with their back towards me and they wouldn’t turn around or move, even after the tram began to rock more frantically, and the stranger kept pulling at the handle of the tram, and it kept moving, kept rolling forward. I knew at any moment it would capture momentum and roll down the hill, squashing those in the way who were not fast enough to move, and causing me to hold onto the tram for dear life.

The people moved just as the tram took flight. I managed to hold on, just.

And then I woke up.

Now maybe I just had one too many strawberries (4 in total) for dessert last night and the fructose sugar I have been craving more heavily the last few days took control of my subconscious, or maybe it was one too many ‘I still can’t stop’ long blacks or maybe it really was my subconscious trying to tell me something. I’m not sure yet.

But if I was a dream expert, I would expect to be told it meant something about feeling like I am loosing control, and that the loss of control not only affects me but others around me.

Yikes.

Maybe I am loosing control with my mental stability and running over others with my new clean eating preaching and cant stop!

Maybe I am loosing control with my Primal Plan and have eaten too much fructose and feel like I am loosing control with my challenge!

Maybe because I haven’t done a WOD since Friday I feel like I am loosing control of my fitness – that it’s running away from me and my pent up energy and excitement is ready to literally send me over the edge and off the rails!

To be sure, I did what everyone with a strange tram dream would do. I googled.

The meaning of tram dreams – you would be surprised what you can find out.

This is what I did –

Option 1 –

  • To want to get off the tram in a dream when it cannot stop means that in real life you have got involved in a case, which now seems to you rather doubtful.

Hmmm no don’t think it is that. Happy with the Primal Plan, next…

Option 2 –

  • Public or shared transport tends to indicate that the “trip” you are on may be some change or transition which many people go through.

Well that makes a bit more sense. Cutting out most of what has been my daily diet, what I thought was a healthy eating plan for the last few years is a bit of a change and transition.

Option 3 –

  • To see a tram in your dream suggests that you need to be more disciplined in certain aspects of your life.

Ouch.

Maybe I have overlooked a label, eaten one too many strawberries, or just maybe need to pick up the exercise.

I stopped googling after that.

Maybe I need to be disciplined in my eating ‘sharing’… Stop preaching to others about what I am now practicing, and share the love instead.

Nobody appreciates a Jehovah’s Witness or Born Again Christian knocking on their door with a message from the lord when they are an atheist (sorry to the above two religious groups, but its true).

An ex-smoker who can’t stand the smell but instead of moving to the non-smoking side of the bar provides a lecture on how smokers are not just killing themselves but everyone around them, is a little annoying (even if true).

A vegetarian who lectures you about how an animal is killed while you are tucking into your steak deserves a slap and a vegan who wears leather shoes is just confused.

So a day 16 clean eating – challenge still not finished – newbie i.e. me, is premature and annoying in promoting their greatness to others when they have never bothered to notice the greatness before.

Just like my sister-in-law who is trying (and almost there) to get back to her pre-baby weight and has taken a liking to some of my newly tried recipes…

Two kilos to go (Sister-in-law)  –

When you made your Bolognese sauce with coconut oil, could you taste the oil?? I might have to jump on this oil bandwagon….Just did a bit of reading on olive oil and its cooking temperature!

Newbie (me) –

Nope, I cant but I try not to use too much of it.

Because I am trying to ensure the other stuff does not have sugar, it actually would taste the same if you used stuff with sugar e.g. sauce etc. but without the nasty’s….

Yes olive oil no good at high temperatures and all other canola etc. are BAD

Throw out your marg and get some butter too.

(See how eager I am to show off my ‘new’ knowledge, I automatically think everyone else knows nothing).

Annoyed at my naivety (Sister-in-law) –

Stacey. You don’t know me at all. I absolutely DETEST marg and everyone who uses it!!!! And I have never been a fan of low fat diary products. Full fat all the way for me!!

Maybe she was a bit over the top with the detest comment, but ill forgive her because a) she tried the zucchini bolognaise recipe (even if she did use her own sauce mix which probably – most likely – almost certainly – contained sugar) and b) she is thinking of coming to the next Primal Junction clean eating seminar.

She also later in the day sent me a photo of her bacon, zucchini and egg muffin, and judging by the looks of it, could do with a few of the Primal recipes and helpful hints…

There I go again, judging….

I hope in tonight’s dream she is not driving the tram or that I am eating margarine.

IMG_0365 IMG_0367

The Primal Challenge Day 12

I remembered to bring in the rest of my chocolate cake to work today. Double dark chocolate mud cake. I bought it in, took the lid off the Tupperware, cut up the cake and called everyone over for a slice.  People have come and gone all day to take a piece or two (it’s a big cake) and I have sat here, and smelt the chocolate goodness. I’m in a dizzy haze of second hand sugar euphoria.

It’s almost enough. Not quite, but almost. This actually is the one cake I would eat and today my headache had returned and my back is not the best and I couldn’t finish the WOD so I’m slightly depressed, so a piece of moist, dense, sickly sweet chocolate cake would be just what I needed right?

Wrong.

I am eating a banana (still can’t cut out fruit completely, it’s my only piece today) and pretending it is in fact the chocolate cake. The smell that still lingers in the air is actually making it easier, if I close my eyes and block my nose it’s almost reality.

Thank god the last piece was taken and I didn’t have to pack him away and take him home again. That would have been too much.

I love baking. I love the precision and actually finding it soothing in a crazy dough kneading sort of way.  But most of all I love making people happy.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done a bit of charity work but I’m no Australian of the year – I’ve left that title to the amazing Shane Crawford after his Melbourne to Perth ride for Breast Cancer. I’m just talking about making people happy with instant gratification, and I can do that through food.

So I bake and I cook and I share it all with a smile and a warm bubble of pleasure runs through my body every time someone takes another cookie or slice of cake.

But today, I did feel a little differently. I felt a little guilty.

There were a few remarks about how I was ‘making them fat’ or ‘poisoning’ them with sugar when I was not eating it – of course their comments didn’t stop them from taking cake – but they did make me a little more self aware.

Was I making them fat and poisoning them? Would they be just as happy if I bought in a sugarless, flourless, almond meal cake or some protein powder balls?

I think the answer is no.

Unless…. I never told them it was sugarless/flourless and completely clean…..

Regardless, now that I know about the dangers of sugar, should I stop playing with it in the kitchen? This would involve an entire new hobby – an entire new library of cookbooks, an entire new set of carefully labeled Tupperware containers, (yes slight obsessive compulsive disorder) with an entire new set of ingredients. 

And – shock horror – what if this type of food doesn’t make people happy??!! I’m like Jerry Seinfeld – I want to be everyone’s friend – I don’t want enemies due to my poorly baked and horrible tasting kitchen catastrophe. 

Plus ill have a new team from 1st August; they don’t need a boss who tries to poison them by eliminating poison!

Oh chocolate, oh sugar, look what you have done to me – and I haven’t even eaten a piece of you – not even a crumb   – or licked the knife.

Please sugar; please don’t take away my social status. If I’m not the positive team player with a mean competitive edge especially when she is hungry – then I could be nobody. Well not quite, but its Friday afternoon, time for a bit of dramatics.

Can I bake a cake or two, a tray of cookies, a pie, a tart, and some scones just for special occasions? Can I throw in a cup or two of sugar (or three as this recipe called for) and not have my conscience eat away at my inner angel?

Surely we all have a sugar choice – and if I can bake it and not eat it – then others can also choose what to put in their mouth.

As long as they know, and as long as there is a choice.

So –

Post Challenge Firm Commitment Number 1

  1. Experiment in sugar free baking and hope that like a packet of sugar free extra I can still make people smile.

 546796_10200532160081372_1812638151_n

The Primal Challenge Day 8

Week two was looming and I needed to shrug off the painful monkey that seemed to be both clinging to my shoulders and clutching my leg with his painful claws simultaneously, and send him scurrying back into the forest in search of a banana.

So after my roast pork dinner and a self indulgent winging blog post, I regrouped, and inspired by a colleague and fellow crossfit/clean eater’s photos of protein balls, zucchini cheesecake and coco-nutty granola, started cooking up a storm.

First – my ‘don’t hide the greens’ smoothie. Don’t get me wrong, I really wanted to hide the greens. The strange colour actually puts me off and reminds me I am drinking a leafy vegetable, but I had no beetroot to help change colour – and I don’t like beetroot anyway – and needed to (in more ways than one) suck it up. So I added in extra kale and a few extra berries and some chia seeds and imagined it was a lovely pastel colour rather than something that resembled grass when I took the first sip.  

And despite its strange spinach like colour, the taste test proved it was a winner.

Which at 11pm on Sunday night when I had to be up at 5:20am was a life savor.

Time then for some breakfast muffins.

These were easy and really are like a mini quiche. You can basically put whatever you want in the mixture. I used 1 x onion, 1 x green capsicum, 1 x tomato, around eight pieces of cooked free range bacon, some basil, salt, pepper, a little water and nine x free range eggs from our friends the happy chickens. I can almost hear them clucking with joy as they wander carelessly around.

Make sure you give your muffin pans a good spray of coconut oil, and when taking out the muffins let them cool but don’t go cold or they could get stuck in the bottom. Not that it matters – then you just have an omelet.

I actually ended up with two omelet’s as my impatience to get them out of the pan broke their little bottoms off (hey it was 11:45pm by then). But never fear my husband who has finally cottoned on to my new way of eating was up for a few. So into the Tupperware went the broken bums of bacon along with two sizeable full muffins.

I took the other eight. Don’t judge me, he has cereal as a backup and not afraid to eat it.

So yes, my husband finally knows that pasta is no longer on the menu. Or maybe he hasn’t realised that yet, because he has been very supportive. When I dragged him to the health food isle in Coles and stood staring blankly at the items trying in vain to find coconut oil – turns out it was in a jar and looked like a paste, not in a bottle that looked like oil, thanks for the heads up guys – he waited a full 30 seconds before leaving and wondering down to the freezer section to sneak an ice-cream tub into the trolley while I was not there to refuse.

He has eaten everything I have put in front of him, which is generally the same dinner as mine with a few slight modifications like adding a potato to his vegetable selection, without complaint. Although he did look at me quizzically with raised eyebrows when I told him it also meant I was off the grog.

The expression was short lived however before his eyes lit up with excitement. I realized then his light bulb moment was in fact the discovery of having a designated driver for the next few weeks.

The biggest realisation however comes when he offers me something, or goes to add something to his meal and I explain why I can’t have it.

  • Like tomato sauce having sugar.
  • Like the tinned mangoes having sugar added as a preservative.
  • Like the roasted vegetables Masterfoods herb shaker having sugar.

Although I couldn’t explain to him why potatoes are a no go. I love potatoes and am convinced I was Irish in a past life because I could eat them with every meal. So if someone can please explain to me why potatoes are not allowed I would be grateful. They come from the ground, and while I know our primitive paleo ancestors didn’t have spades as such, surely they could have given the women a rest by putting the club to a better use.

I can only imagine it is the starch or carbohydrates – everything I like about them.

However back to my breakfast muffins.  

Very tasty! I had two with a cup of smoothie this morning and am sure both would give Jamie Oliver a run for his healthy eating money.

They also filled me up delightfully and have kept me going with the aid of some trail mix going until lunch time.

I also think the monkey has gone, or at least run up a tree for the day. My shoulders are not as sore as they were this morning, despite the WOD – although I am glad I still used a lighter weight. Seems my muscles might need a bit longer recovery time than they did previously, but we will see during the week.

Again, I’m feeling pretty good. Not fantastically better than I was before the challenge, and I’m sure there are still a few downs throughout the ups, but overall I’m enjoying the challenge of taking part in the challenge.

I’m also looking forward to making the latest Primal Junction MOD – slow cooked beef ribs – and pretending I’ve just been clubbed by a stranger and dragged by the foot to a campfire to take part in a last night’s leftovers. If only there was potato. 

egg muffins geen smoothie muffinsave