My Whim is Law

…where a single parent in Portland still believes that wishing will make it so…

Part Two: “So what’s this whole Paleo thing about, anyway?”

(I’ve written and re-written this post about a hundred times over – in my head, that is. Time to get it out, imperfections and all…)

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating. In short, paleo = eating real food, not manufactured or modified or ‘transformed’ into food(stuffs). “Eating paleo”, for me, means not eating grains, for example. Or anything made with added sugar. Or almost all dairy (I make an exception for pastured butter, heavy cream – as a treat in coffee – or full-fat Greek yogurt from time to time.) Or beans – yes, this includes anything made with soy (one of the more, um, irradiated and chemically-altered foods out there, thanks to Monsanto & Co.).

I am eating plenty of protein – mostly in the form of meat or eggs. (Yes, my cholesterol is better than it’s been in YEARS, thanks for asking…) All kinds and hues and textures of vegetables. Fruits and nuts, in moderation. And plenty of good fats, whether as an entire avocado diced into my lunch salads, pastured butter used to scramble eggs in the am, or coconut oil to saute dinner stuff.

Can I eat out? Absolutely! Dick’s Kitchen is a paleo-friendly restaurant here in PDX, while my friend Meagan-Kate collected a whole plethora of great places to find paleo options. And my fellow Paleo ‘steak buddy’ Sue pulls me out to go eat rare red meat with her around town, don’t you know…

Do I ever feel deprived? Hungry? Left out? Nope. Really. Because I’m eating enough protein & fats to keep me satiated, and I’ve switched my body to burn fat instead of glucose. (So my blood sugars don’t drop and spike any more before or after meals, for example.)

Huh-wha? I’m not on the blood sugar roller coaster? Nope – and here’s proof positive. I’ve never been able to fast for Yom Kippur before (which requires a 25-hr fast if you’re going to be observant) – I’d always caved early because I was ‘ravenous’ or ‘lightheaded’ or had ‘low blood sugar.’ Not this year – sailed through the entire 25 hours without missing a beat & with plenty of energy. And nope, I didn’t believe I could do it, either.

What else has ‘going Paleo’ done for me? In six months time, I’ve dropped 40 lbs. Eliminated all of those negative labels on my health record (Pre-diabetic? Gone. High blood pressure/high cholesterol? Ditto.) And my insomnia, leg cramps & other health annoyances are all a thing of the past. Finally, I’ve also dropped several sizes & had to replace my entire wardrobe by now (am not a big fan of that ‘Flashdance’ look after all…)

I had plenty of help along the way, thanks to the burgeoning Paleolithic community that goes by several different names: Primal (as represented by Mark Sisson), Paleo (my favorite Caveman, Robb Wolf), and Archevore (Dr. Kurt Harris). I devour the questions (and answers) provided by the PaleoHacks.com contributors.

And the Paleo movement is going mainstream, thanks to media outlets willing to take a closer look & actually try it out for themselves (this 5-part series by a local SF CBS station reporter & medical professional is fascinating – I believe she originally set out to debunk Paleo, but couldn’t when all was said and done!)

Have I completely overloaded you with links and information and stuff to tag to ‘read later’? Are you sick to death of hearing that ‘Paleo’ word by now? Sorry, I’m not done yet.

Paleolithic Diet Explained - courtesy of PaleoHacks.com

click twice to see the ginormous graphic in full glory!

This excellent graphic from the folks behind PaleoHacks lays out the entire primordial story, along with how our supposed health improvements (canola oil? trans-fats? fiber, fiber, fiber?) led us down the wrong path.

Finally – is this a temporary diet? Will I ever go back to eating birthday cake, bagels, or ice cream? Nope and nope. It’s now a way of life for me. Sure, I may tweak it from time to time – but I’m in control now – which means I can indulge in a birthday bourbon instead of cake & ice cream. And I like it better that way.

Or to twist that old expression just a tad: “Once you go Caveman, you never go back…!”

Update: Want to see a clearer version of that graphic? Look below the fold…

Continue reading

Posted in Caveman Eating, Get Betsy Healthy | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Part One: “So what’s this whole Paleo thing about, anyway?”

I’ve been reluctant to talk more about my food practices these days – in particular, the Paleo lifestyle I’ve embraced wholeheartedly.

Why?

I remember the days where I was gung-ho about Atkins – only to fall silent when I eventually did the Frankenfood crash & burn. Have been a cheerleader for the Mediterranean Plan, the ‘eat real food’ plan, and the ‘locavore’ model.

Have toyed with vegetarianism, raw foodism, and every other kind of food-related -ism you can shake a turkey leg at.

So yes – I freely admit that I was a) gun-shy and b) afraid of (maybe? eventually?) having to eat my words one day.

And yes – I don’t much care any more. Because I’m getting good results. Feeling healthier, stronger, in better physical condition than I have in years – even though I still have a long way to go. So my children? They can laugh at me all they want to. (I’m betting I’ll have the last laugh…)

The latest proof? Eating a diet of lots of red meat, fowl, eggs or fish, saturated fats (avocado, coconut milk, butter), nuts, vegetables, and minimal dairy (greek yogurt over berries on an infrequent basis, for example) – plus lifestyle change including exercise, decent amounts of sleep, etc. – moved my cholesterol from 203 to 169 in 5 months. (Want more numbers? Read back through the posts in the ‘Get Betsy healthy’ category…)

Lower cholesterol while eating steak, bacon & eggs? You betcha…!

So yes, I’m “doing Paleo”. Which means that I’m reverting back to a contemporary version of what our cavemen ancestors might have eaten, before the birth of agriculture as we know it.

Yes, I know cavemen probably didn’t eat avocado. Greek yogurt – or any yogurt – was a foreign concept. And I’m pretty damned sure my great-great-great-great umpteenth great-grandfather wasn’t using coconut milk (!!!) in his coffee (double !!!).

But I am. And I’m in it for life.

…look for a Part Two post shortly pointing to resources & pulling in other voices…

Posted in Caveman Eating, Get Betsy Healthy | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Comments from the snarky teens…

While the rest of the world may be impressed with the healthy changes I’ve made, my own children remain blase, unimpressed, and/or snarky.

(One would think they’d be happy about the fact that they may not have to provide expensive medical care for me way down the road someday – but apparently they weren’t going to do that anyway.)

Here’s a sampling of what I’ve heard from them lately…

On what I’m currently making for dinner:

  • “Ugh – who in the hell would eat that?”
  • “Don’t you know by now, Mom, that you don’t really know how to cook meat. It’s always dry, tough & way too chewy.” (might have something to do with the fact you want your steak medium-well, no?)
  • “Are you sure that isn’t already spoiled?” (said about a perfectly-fine pepper from the farmer’s market that wasn’t perfectly polished/waxed first)
  • “Um…no thanks, I’ll make my own (insert packaged, overly-processed pile of crap) instead.”
  • …and the ever popular

  • “When are you going to make something we’d like to eat, too?”

On what I look like these days:

  • “It looks fine, Mom.” (said about the shirt that’s hanging off one shoulder, Flashdance-style)
  • “I figured that was my package of new underwear ’cause you hate pink.”
  • “You look the same to me. Only you have [more grey hair/are wearing too much black/your clothes don’t match/a hideous shirt on/shouldn’t be wearing those shoes]”
  • “I really don’t want to hear about the size of your new pants, Mom. Ever.”

And in general (when I say this is a lifestyle, not a temporary ‘diet’ I’m on):

  • “Aren’t you ever going to have [doughnuts/brownies/ice cream/sushi rolls/pasta/bourbon/etc.) again? That’s just STUPID.” (accompanied by optional eye roll or dismissive shrug)

That said? I haven’t seen either kid consume a bowl of cereal in weeks. My daughter’s now gravitating to my breakfast food of choice (Aidell’s chicken-apple sausages). My son’s cut way back on the pre-packaged dried chow mein. My roasted veggies mysteriously disappear from the pan when I turn my back. And I’m seeing things like ‘lettuce’ ‘tomatoes’ and ‘fruit’ show up on the grocery list whiteboard on the refrigerator.

And I was never doing this to impress either (staunchly resistant) teenager anyway, was I?

Nope, never ever was.

So I’m making what I want to eat for dinner most days. Buying the pink underwear for me, not my daughter. And keeping the teflon teenage-impervious suit on 24/7.

Posted in Bossing the Kids, Caveman Eating, Get Betsy Healthy | Tagged , | 3 Comments

Betsy gets healthy, pt 1

Had an unanticipated visit with my doctor this week, after experiencing some funky symptoms last week that may have been signs of potential heart problems. (Was really really annoyed re. same, for reasons you’ll read about at the end of this post…)

The results?

  • Since May 14, my blood pressure went from 138/80 to 117/75
  • My resting heart rate was 76 72, down from 80
  • Passed the EKG with “flying colors”, according to my doctor
  • My blood sugars are back into ‘all normal’ ranges, as ongoing tests indicate
  • Finally, I’ve lost 18 lbs since mid-April

So the dizziness/lightheadedness that kicked in last week (and continues even today)? Nope, it’s not high blood pressure, or anything else related to my (formerly-unhealthy) lifestyle. Instead, it’s vertigo – or BPPV, as it’s listed on my Official Results Sheet (unofficial translation? I have rocks in my head..)

How am I doing this? I jokingly refer to it as my ‘clean living’ plan, which loosely looks something like this (caveat – this is what’s working for ME. YMMV):

  • No sugar or processed foods. (I shop at the farmer’s market/outside aisles of grocery store for my stuff, and am not even tempted at the kids’ stuff. Honest.)
  • Minimal, minimal dairy (greek yogurt), fruit and grains (steel-cut oatmeal 3X a week). Yes, this means no cheese or milk in my coffee. (And no, no soy products, either – I’m using coconut milk instead).
  • Plenty of vegetables, plenty of protein – from meats, nuts and eggs, mostly. (Nope, no beans either.) If it’s starting to sound like paleo to you, well, it’s pretty close – I’m calling it “modified paleo”.
  • Alcohol restricted to wine or vodka/soda only, and no more than 2-3 times a week. No mixers, add-ins, etc. No sodas or sweetened beverages (juices, even), plenty of water/herbal tea, iced coffee in the AM only.
  • “Good fats” allowed: olive oil, avocado, bacon, walnut oil, butter. No bad (trans-fat, etc.) allowed.
  • Exercise. Lots and lots of varied things to move more & get the blood pumping.

So – after making all of these changes (including 2.5 mile walks during my lunch hour 3X a week, for example), you can imagine how annoyed I was to think that I was giving up cheese (my biggest weakness) for naught. Not hardly, as it turns out…!

What else have I lost along the way? Well, that’ll be part of the next update…

Posted in Caveman Eating, Get Betsy Healthy | Tagged , | 11 Comments
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