Make Your Diet Work For You

There are so many diet and food plans out there, from juicing (don’t even get me started on this trend), to paleo, to the more extreme Whole 30, to Weight Watchers and everything in between, there is something for everyone to try. The hope is that you will find something that works for you, but what the experts don’t always tell you is that sometimes that takes a little — ok a lot — of hard work on your part. I would never recommend that everyone eat paleo, or that everyone follow in intermittent fasting type of diet, because I honestly don’t think that there is one style or plan that will work for every single person. Never mind food preferences, taking into account religion, culture, schedule, family, time and financial restrictions, it’s pretty ludicrous to group everyone into one diet category.

diet-meme-4

One thing we can do though, through some sleuthing and (sometimes frustrating) trial and error, is figure out what works for you and your body. And when I say what “works” for you, I don’t just mean what makes you lose weight or lose body fat, what I mean is the diet and meal plan that fits within your lifestyle, making your every day better instead of creating more stress in the process.

If you feel like you have to eat paleo because all of your best friends are doing it and because so-and-so blogger claims that it’s the best, but it’s causing you more stress and financial strain to keep up with, is it really the best plan for you?

Don’t you think it would be more beneficial to find something that fits within your unique lifestyle, while still allowing you to be the healthiest version of you? I sure do. And that’s why I strongly believe that you must make your diet work for you. You should not feel like you are a slave to a certain dietary style, depriving yourself at every turn and feeling miserable all the while. Want to be mostly paleo but still eat bread or dairy once in a while? That’s totally fine in my world, as long as you’re doing so in a healthful way. The problem is that when people do something part-way like this, they tend to feel guilty, like they’re doing something wrong. There’s nothing wrong about making healthy choices for yourself, and more importantly, you should never feel guilty even if those choices don’t fit your prescribed “plan”. Because the plan has to fit you.

From a personal standpoint, I’ve tried a handful of dietary styles over the past couple of years, a couple purely out of curiosity or health reasons and a few really just to report back on the blog. I’ve tried gluten free, intermittent fasting, carb backloading, and a modified Whole 30. I’ve gone sugar free, grain free and dairy free at multiple points along the way. My biggest take away from all of these? There was not one complete plan that fit my life 100%.

When I tried Intermittent Fasting (IF), I found that I leaned out quite easily, but became stressed about such a strict eating schedule every single day, often having to bring all three meals to work with me. I liked it, but it was kind of a pain due to my work schedule. Carb Back Loading (CBL) was a total fail for me, leaving me one carb-free meal away from becoming homicidal. Gluten free is easy for me, but I’ve realized over time that gluten really has no ill effect on me, so there’s honestly no point in avoiding it all together. I’ve realized that I feel great when I’m sugar free, but it’s really tough (and no fun!)  to live a life of 100% sugar free-ness all the time, and I’ve also found that I feel better when I do include some grains in my diet, believe it or not! As you can see, there have been good and bad (with the exception of CBL, which for me was just bad, bad, bad) with each dietary style that I’ve tried, so what in the world tells me that I have to stick with just one?

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I think the more important thing is finding something that you can live with, that you want to live with, rather than eating in a way that you think you are “supposed to” but that makes you unhappy. To be honest, ever since I started paying attention to healthy eating and nutrition years ago, a lot of the things I used to find delicious just don’t appeal to me anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I still love treats and certainly eat my fair share of cupcakes, but I’m no longer drawn to the loads of processed junk that I used to eat on a regular basis. Maybe that’s a product of becoming older with a better paycheck, but I think it’s also a product of teaching my body over time how much better it feels when the foods going into it are actually nourishing, and not just chemical-laden flavor bombs that are found in every aisle of major grocery stores.

But eating to nourish yourself and to keep yourself healthy does not mean that there is one set of rules that you must follow. We all have unique tolerances to certain foods, we all have unique preferences. So why take that away with one standard set of food “rules” that we’re all supposed to abide by? Just because your friends are paleo doesn’t mean that you have to be paleo as well. Just because your friends are gluten free, doesn’t mean that eating gluten is making you fat. There’s a lot of confusion out there about what we all should and shouldn’t be eating, and besides some very basic guidelines (eat your veggies!), there is a lot of room for variation while still being healthy. It just might take a little bit of work to find your specific balance between nutritionally healthy and happy, but it’s worth it, I promise.

On Monday I’ll be back with a breakdown of my own dietary plan that I’ve come up with over time and how I got there. This is the plan that works for me and makes me feel my best, without making me feel like I’m living by a set of someone else’s guidelines that don’t even work for me.

Readers: Do you follow a specific diet plan? Have you ever strictly followed a plan such as Whole 30 or Weight Watchers? Do you find it easier to have strict rules regarding your eating or does that stress you out? 

30 Day Reboot – Halfway There

Well, I am officially more than half way done with my 30-Day Reboot. And you know what? It has been pretty great so far! Just to recap for those of you who are new, I’m doing 30 days without any grains, added sugars (including honey, agave, and non-caloric sweeteners like stevia), and alcohol. I also want to add in, since I didn’t address this in the first post, there’s also a big blanket “no junk” rule. I think that “junk” can be subjective in some cases (I mean I think we can all agree that Twinkies are junk, but people go either way on crackers. See what I mean?). So, while yes, within the rules of no grains/sugar/alcohol, I guess I could technically live off of french fries and potato chips, but that would defeat the whole purpose.

So while no grains/sugar/alcohol can seem fairly easy, it’s really much bigger than that. It’s about getting back to whole foods, re-learning to appreciate the simplicity and flavors of real food that doesn’t have a bunch of stuff added to it.

For those of you who remember, I initially said that I would be going completely gluten free, but that I would be allowing very limited grains, such as rice once per week. After the first week though, I had been completely grain free and felt great, so I thought I might as well keep that up for the whole 30 days.

How I’ve Felt So Far: Surprisingly Easy Transition Period 

Day 1 – The first day, I was feeling so crappy from some horrible eating over the weekend, so this was really just a huge relief. I felt fresh and excited — I think my body was just craving veggies so badly, after a junk food and hangover filled weekend.

Day 2 -I was extremely sleepy, I assume as my body was adjusting to the lack of sugar. I seriously almost fell asleep at work, and felt like I was in some sort of daze.

Day 5 – Following day two, I felt surprisingly normal, but once day five rolled around, I went on megabitch status for about 24 hours. I was irritable, stressed, anxious, and just all around feeling horrible. I got stuck in traffic at one point that day, and you should have heard the verbal venom that was coming out of my mouth  — this was not your typical road rage. I even got so angry that day, that while waiting for take out, I almost strangled the girl in front of me in line because she was chewing gum with her mouth open. She wasn’t even being loud or obnoxious about it, I just couldn’t control my completely irrational rage.

Day 6/7 – These two days I was hit hard with a case of the sleepies. Unfortunately I was at a conference, which didn’t leave much time for napping, but boy was I wiped.

Day 8 – Honestly it was if I woke up on Day 8 to the first ever sunrise. I felt GREAT!!! I had high energy all day, and never hit that 3pm lull that I so often fall into. I even looked around at one point that afternoon, and realized that everyone else had that bleary eyed look that I’m so familiar with.

Day 12 – Present – After feeling so great on day 8, and throughout the next few days, I really thought I was through the hard stuff. Then for some reason on day 12, I hit a point where I was just starving, tired, and had no appetite for anything healthy. Luckily that only lasted one day, and I’ve been feeling excellent ever since.  I’ve wanted chocolate a few times, but other than that really haven’t had any cravings for anything I “can’t” have. Will and I even had friends over for the Pats game on Sunday, and although we had a lot of healthy snacks, I really wasn’t even tempted by the stuff that was off plan.

 How I’m Feeling Physically:

  • Like I said, my energy levels are excellent right now. I don’t know that I’ve been sleeping better, but for the past four or five days, I’ve been able to get up and out of bed feeling wide awake, instead of snoozing and still feeling asleep for the first 30 minutes I’m up.
  • I don’t know that I’ve lost any real weight thus far, and that was not my goal, but I have definitely dropped a bunch of water weight. I feel lighter, de-bloated, and all of my clothes, especially pants, are a little bit looser.
  • For some reason, although I’m still eating the same breakfast at the same time as always, I’ve been getting hungrier in the mornings, about halfway through my workouts. I don’t know why this is, but it doesn’t seem to have affected my workouts up to this point.
  • Despite feeling lighter and maybe dropping a pound or two, I feel as strong as ever. This week and last week, my lifts have been excellent. Even though I’ve been getting a little hungry during my workouts, I’ve been hitting some great high intensity lifts, as well as really great conditioning sessions.

How I’m Feeling Mentally:

Like I said, the cravings have been minimal. Besides the one day of complete psychosis, I honestly have had an easier time with this than I would have imagined. Now, as this is a modified Whole 30, I imagine that I would have had a lot more cravings and would be having a harder time had I cut out dairy as well, but I guess we’ll never know, unless I someday do a real Whole 30 (not likely).

I also have noticed that I’m loving fruit more than ever before — I think that with the lack of any added sugar, the natural flavors and sugars in fruit just taste that much better. I’m still not eating a ton of fruit, but more than I did in the past – about two to three pieces per day (a banana in the morning, then an apple or pear in the afternoon, with the occasional clementine thrown in with lunch).

Two Weeks Left. Now What?

So, with a little less than two weeks left, I’d say that I’m really happy with the way things are going so far. As I said, I feel great, and I think this was just a necessary break after the craziness of the holidays. The biggest challenge right now is my social life — it’s difficult to go out to eat with these “rules”, and let’s face it, life is just a little more fun when you have wine. But 30 days isn’t forever, and I think it’s a good challenge to have under my belt.  Will has been more than supportive, he’s been a good sport trying things like cauliflower rice instead of the real deal (although, he’s been having regular rice too, because, I mean, it’s good).

Readers: Have you ever gone grain free or sugar free? What foods do you crave most often?

Contemplating The Whole 30

I want to start off by saying Wow! Thanks to everyone for the response on my last blog post. I was pretty amazed to see so many Facebook shares over the first couple days, and now I’m featured as a “Freshly Pressed” blog on the front page of WordPress! So, I guess what I’m saying is, thanks for paying attention to something that I feel is very important in the fitness world. You guys are the best! Also, welcome to all of my new readers. So glad you all have decided to stick around for a little while, hopefully I can keep you entertained.

I also want to reiterate that the point of that last post was not to criticize or judge certain athletes/bloggers/models for being too lean, it was to criticize social media and the fitness industry for making us feel as though we all need to look that way.

Moving on…

Some of my friends are in the middle of a Whole 30 right now, and many of my friends have done them in the past. For those of you who don’t know, the Whole 30 is essentially a 30 day challenge of extremely strict Paleo eating (no grains, added sugar, dairy, alcohol, beans, legumes… did I miss anything?). I’ve said about 5 times that I’m going to do a Whole 30, and I always seem to find a reason not to do it. “But I have a wedding that month”. “But there’s a holiday that month”. “But it’s summer… enough said”. It seems like I’m just making excuses so that I don’t have to torture myself, but I’m not so sure that’s the case.

No, I do not want to give up my greek yogurt for breakfast. No, I do not want to give up my weekly bowl of oatmeal. No, I do not want to give up rice, or stinky cheeses, or (god forbid) peanut butter. Notice though, that everything I’m complaining about having to give up for a Whole 30 is, in my eyes, healthy. So why is it necessary to give it up for 30 days?

My hesitance to do a Whole 30 definitely is part fear, but it’s also part thinking that the whole plan just isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Do I think it’s worth it to give up added sugars and alcohol for 30 days? Absolutely, and I’m more than willing to take on that challenge. Do I think that it’s also necessary to give up all grains and dairy for 30 days? Of that I’m not so sure. When it comes to most things health and diet related, I’m a firm believer that there is no one-size-fits-all equation. Not everyone has to be dairy free. Not everyone has to be grain and gluten free. I’ve done 3 weeks completely dairy free before (as I was medically advised, due to GI issues in the past), and I realized that dairy doesn’t really make a difference in how I feel. When I avoided it, I felt exactly the same as when I added it back in, so why remove it from my diet again? Grains, as a whole, are not on my black list just yet. The jury’s still out on gluten, but having rice with dinner is more than just ok in my book, it’s encouraged.

So again, I ask, why remove these things from my diet? Just so that I can say I did a Whole 30?

Maybe it’s so that I can say that I completed the ultimate diet challenge? I don’t know. I’m not saying I’m not going to do one, I’m just undecided about whether it’s worth it or not. I feel very compelled to do a 30 day trial of no added sugar, alcohol, or gluten, which would be a challenge in itself. But I guess then I wouldn’t be in the Whole 30 club, and I might be shunned by the non-dairy eating Paleo elite.  Maybe I’ll just have to call it a 3/4 30, or a 70% 30, or something like that.

I truly believe that Paleo has an excellent base to it, and that the ideas supporting it are very sound. Eating whole foods, avoiding processed foods, avoiding excessive sugar, appreciating food and natural nutrients, these are all things I can get behind, and things that I do practice in my daily life.  But can’t there be a gray area? Do we all have to be “all Paleo all the time”, or can’t we just be healthy? (Jake touched on these questions over at JJ strength as well. Check out his thoughts here.)

How many of you out there have successfully completed a Whole 30? Can you encourage me to do one in 3 sentences or less? Do you think I’m just making excuses because I know it’s going to be hard? Go ahead, tell me what I probably don’t want to hear. 

Again, a big Thank You to WordPress for featuring my last post, and an even bigger Thank You and Welcome to my new readers! Happy Friday everyone! 

To Wheat or Not To Wheat

I recently finished reading Wheat Belly by William Davis, MD. It’s a book that I’ve been hearing about for months, but that I honestly avoided because it seemed like everyone who read it became absolutely obsessed. Now I know why.

wheat belly

I have very mixed feelings about this book. I’ve taken away a lot of good, but also still have a lot of questions. I made sure to read it with a critical eye, because I didn’t want to simply believe everything he was saying just because it was in print. I think I did that well, and over the past week or so have spent time gathering my thoughts about where I stand on the great wheat debate.

If you haven’t read the book yourself, I do strongly suggest you read it. There is some great information in the book, and even if you don’t completely eliminate wheat from your life, it’s helpful to be armed with this information to at least start making some healthy changes to your diet and lifestyle.

My biggest question after reading Wheat Belly is this: Are all of our problems actually coming from the wheat, or is it really just the overabundance of sugars in our diet? If you don’t have celiac or a gluten sensitivity, is it really the wheat that is harmful? Or is it the 60-70% of daily calories that come from carbs for many Americans?

I know that the author points to a lot of science and research regarding this, and he seems convinced that it is, in fact the wheat. And before you say “but wheat has been around for centuries, blah blah blah”, the Dr. Davis makes it very clear that the genetically modified wheat that we consume today is no where close to the wheat that was around even 100 years ago. That, to me is a scary thought, that we have genetically modified some foods so much that they practically aren’t even the same food that they once were in the wild. Creating crops that can be grown quickly, with high yield and at low cost is on one hand brilliant science, but on the other hand possibly harming our insides slowly and silently.

Another thought that I had while reading was that it seemed to me that the author was kind of using scare tactics to get his point across. Someone who believes everything they read might come away from this book believing that if they continue to eat wheat, they’re going to develop a severe neurological disorder and/or heinous skin rash. It is scary to think that wheat could play a part in many of the diseases and disorders we see today, but people also need to realize that there are many, many people who eat wheat for their whole lives and never develop these life threatening diseases. (Or are there?). It is amazing though, the amount of disorders, diseases, rashes, etc. that can potentially be exacerbated by wheat products. I’ve had mild psoriasis my entire life; could it be cleared up by simply eliminating wheat from my diet? It’s an interesting thought.

I guess what I’m saying is, I don’t know what I’m saying. I definitely don’t think he’s incorrect, but I’m also not positive that everyone needs to eliminate wheat completely from their lives. But should we all cut down drastically on the wheat products we consume? Probably. (See, I told you I don’t really know what I’m saying).

So what am I going to do? Am I going wheat free? Well, not completely, not for now. What I have done since I’ve started reading the book is actively eliminating most wheat products from my diet. Notice that I didn’t say grains, but wheat specifically. I’ve still been eating oats and brown rice in the grain category. I have had some wheat products here and there, but extremely sparingly. I must say that the times when I string together several completely wheat free days back to back have been great. I’m not a huge bread/pasta/cracker eater on an every day basis, so this hasn’t been too difficult for me. Dr. Davis also included some very tasty looking wheat-free recipes at the back of the book, so I’m actually looking forward to trying some of them out. Maybe when I do so I’ll let you all know how they come out!

I think my plan for the immediate future is to eliminate wheat as much as possible, but I’m not going to get crazy about it. I don’t have celiac, so if a little bit of gluten creeps into my day, I’m going to be just fine. I’ll stick with this for a little while, and then may go completely wheat free for a while, but we’ll have to see.  I don’t necessarily know if wheat is the devil, but I do know that it is not the healthy diet staple that the ADA would like you to think it is. I am in full agreement that wheat should not be the base of our entire diet, and that many people would see some great health changes if they decreased their wheat intake, and increased other parts of their diet such as veggies, eggs, and organic meats.

Maybe this is a slow transition into paleo for me, maybe not. All I know is, I still have a lot of questions, and you should too. Are there things that you are eating every day, disguised as health foods but that are really doing more harm than good? Possibly. Books like Wheat Belly may feel like brainwashing, and they may seem extreme, but to me, this information is worth looking into. Who knows, eliminating wheat may improve your life in ways that you would never expect (but maybe it wont, to be totally honest). Is it worth it to try? That’s up to you.

A Nutrition Experiment

First of all, I want to wish everyone a very happy Martin Luther King Day. I hope at the very least, that everyone takes a moment to appreciate the amazing things that MLK did in the name of racial equality in the US, and also to appreciate the very long road we still have in front of us on that front.

Second of all, don’t forget about my giveaway! It will close tomorrow (Tuesday) night at 9 pm, and you really don’t want to miss out on a chance to try some delicious GoodOnYa Bars for free! Check out this post for the details on how to enter.

Now… Remember back in my New Years post a couple weeks ago when I hinted at a nutrition experiment that would be coming up? Well here we gooo…

There are countless nutritional guidelines out there; most of which are touted by “experts” who claim that their program is the best. While I am a strong proponent of following a resistance training program combined with eating mostly whole, un-processed and minimally-processed foods, I understand that many of these programs are a little bit more structured than that. Is there a certain time that you should be eating certain foods? Are there food groups that you should eliminate? Are there certain times during the day when you shouldn’t be eating at all? And how does all of this correspond with strength training and other exercise programs?

Lost and Confused Signpost

There are so many questions, many of which have answers that are backed up by research, but many that have answers based on anecdotal evidence at best.

This is why I’ll be conducting my own nutrition “experiment”. I put experiment in quotations, because this will not be a strict scientific process. This will be a personal period of experimentation, in order to find out if there is a program/plan out there that works well for me and my body. Will the results of my experiment be applicable to you and your goals? Maybe, with a little tweaking, but probably not 100%. You see, everyone is different when it comes to nutrition, weight loss, food intolerances, hormonal balances, etc. So to say that one specific program will work for everyone is unrealistic. But what I will do is share my results and ideas, so that you can choose to try these things for yourself (or not).

What will my experiment involve?

I will be following 3 of the more prominent nutritional styles that I have seen in the fitness world lately. These are Intermittent Fasting (IF), Carb-Back Loading, and Paleo. I will be following each of these nutritional protocols for at least 4 weeks, but will extend one or all of them if I find that I enjoy the progress I am making.  I am giving each of them 4 weeks in order to get myself over the misery that often accompanies the start of a new diet or nutritional plan, in order to really experience how they make me feel. I do realize that 4 weeks is not generally long enough to see immense changes in body composition, and that is the reason why each program is getting at least 4 weeks. Long enough to see if it’s working, and also long enough to see if I absolutely hate it. I’m not a believer in torturing yourself all in the name of “health”, so if one of these programs is making me miserable after 4 weeks, sorry, it’s out.

What are my goals? 

I have a few goals, and I’m sure I’ll come up with more as I begin each program, but here’s what I’ve got for now:

1. Lose about 4% of body fat. I’ve been sitting at about 24% for a while now, and I just want to lean down a little bit. I would love to be able to sit at about 20%, but I just haven’t been able to be disciplined enough to get there yet. This may happen during this experiment, but it may not, depending on how well I tolerate each program. If it doesn’t happen, I’ll simply go back to what works best, and go from there when it’s all said and done.  And for those of you who are thinking “but 20 % isn’t even that low!”, it is pretty lean for a female, and I’m not trying to get down to competitor level leanness here. Just feel better in my own skin.

2. Contol my hunger, instead of hunger controlling me. I’m one of those people who has a horrible reaction to hunger. I get cranky, stressed, and just plain out bitchy. I know that most of my reaction to hunger is mental, and I need to be able to learn that hunger is not always a bad thing. Transient hunger can be helpful, and learning how to deal with it instead of always reaching for the closest snack will help me to reach  my goals. No, I’m not talking about starving myself, but realizing that feeling hunger for a few hours is not going to be the end of the world is something that I need.

hungryorbored

3. Experience these nutritional programs so that I can offer advice or thoughts about them, and actually know what I’m talking about. I’ve said before on here that I don’t follow a Paleo style of eating, but honestly, I’ve never tried it. Maybe I’ll love it, who knows until I try though, right?

Source: 9gag.com via Stephanie on Pinterest

What do I expect?

I expect a lot of things; most of which I’ll go over when I first begin each specific program. Each one will bring it’s own challenges, and hopefully it’s own rewards. I don’t expect to love all of them, but I do expect to find some new insight into the worlds of each of these programs. I expect to lose some body fat, but I’m not sure how much until I actually get started. I expect to have some days where I’m a total raging bitch (I apologize ahead of time), especially when I first start IF. (More on that soon).

How is this all going to go down?

I have a little bit of a process planned out.

First, I’m going to take 2 weeks to really focus on me, my eating habits, training habits, sleeping habits, moods, and so on. I’m going to be a documenting freak, carrying around a journal and taking notes on what I’m eating, when I’m training, how I’m feeling at different parts of the day, energy levels, weight, BF %, and sleep habits. This will be my baseline.

From there, I’m going to start with Intermittent Fasting, and we’ll talk more about this when I get there. After at least 4 weeks with IF, I’m going to transition into Carb-Backoading for at least 4 weeks as well. I plan on finishing out the experiment with at least 4 weeks of strict Paleo eating, and then, well, the future is up in the air.

I’ll keep you all updated as I start each one, and then probably once or twice throughout each 4 week period. Don’t worry, this wont turn into a blog thats all about IF, or CBL, or Paleo, but I will let you know how I’m progressing. I’ll report back with weight and BF% after each trial, as well as challenges, rewards, and thoughts on each one as a whole.

Maybe I’ll love one of these and go back to it. Maybe I’ll hate all of them and go back to the way I do things now. Maybe I’ll want to try one or two of them again, with some small tweaks in order to fit my life better. Who knows! That’s the beauty of an experiment: Who the F knows what is going to happen.

So here we go! Do any of you follow any of these nutritional styles? Have you heard of them all before? Is anyone interested in trying any of these with me? 

Don’t forget about the giveaway

Guest Post: A Day In The Life of a Paleo-er

Hello everyone and Happy Friday! I’m enjoying the 107 degree St. Louis heat and learning a ton here at the NATA conference. I’m also having a great time catching up with old friends and colleagues some of whom I only get to see every year at this conference! So while I’m away filling my brain with knowledge bombs I have another guest post lined up for today! 

I’m very excited to introduce Christina, a very good friend of mine who is a fellow athletic trainer and nutrition junkie. Christina and I actually went to undergrad together and then we completed the exact same grad program, so we basically share a brain at this point! There is one big difference though, and one major reason why I’m so excited to have her post on my blog: Christina follows a paleo lifestyle. Since I don’t, and I have my own reservations about it, I can’t really give you a good paleo post, can I? So who better to write one than someone who lives it herself.  Christina also just started her own blog, (which she describes as a work in progress), over at Wicked Paleo. I encourage you to check it out  because this girl has some great ideas and I know her blog is going to grow into something amazing. 

Cooking for paleo can be so easy.  (So easy a caveman could do it? – ugh bad joke but I know you were all thinking the same thing.) No six small “meals” a day.  Just three squares and you’re set. Hell, some people even manage two.  For those of you that question the ability in you to at least TRY a paleo diet, I ask you to consider these meals.  Ask yourself if you’ve ever had one or more of these at all in your lifetime and if, perhaps, you could string them together into one day, and another, and another, until voila! You are eating a paleo diet.

Breakfast:  2 or 3 eggs scrambled with ham or bacon, and some chopped bell peppers, broccoli and onion.  Coffee or tea.  A piece of fruit.

Lunch: Salad. Greens with any type of vegetable you have in your fridge.  Throw on some grilled chicken, tuna fish, or steak to add some fill factor.  Toss in a homemade vinaigrette or some olive oil and lemon juice.

Dinner: Marinated pork tenderloin (this is my favorite).  Roasted sweet potato fries, asparagus.  Glass of wine.

If you must snack prep some cut up veggies like carrot sticks at some point during the week.  Grab a handful of nuts or fruit. Make some Lara bars.  Here is a good recipe. They taste just like PB&J (PB is NOT paleo btw).

Ingredients:

½ C Walnuts

1/2 C Cashews

1C Mariani’s Berries N’ Cherries

About 7-10 pitted dates

Instructions

In a food processor or blender, blend the nuts so they are fine, but still a little chunky.  Put these in a bowl.  Then blend the fruit and dates until they form paste.  They will actually eventually form a ball of dried fruit.  Place the giant ball into the bowl with the nuts.  Using your hands or a rubber spoon fold the nuts and berries in together.  If you use your hand wet them with water or a little oil to keep the bars from sticking to you.

Once combined to your satisfaction you have a couple options.  A. Form them into golf ball sized balls.  B.  Form them into bars.  Or C.  Roll them out on a cookie sheet and cut into squares.  If you do this final option, grease the cookie sheet and cover the berries with parchment paper prior to rolling.  Roll to desired thickness.

Note from Steph: Christina sent me this link as the recipe she usually follows for her “Lara” bars, but she also adds that she usually just throws in whatever she has in her pantry.  Now that’s my kind of cooking! 

There are so many reasons to try a grain-, dairy-, and legume-free diet.  If you don’t understand this diet, a simple google search will get you started in the right direction.  Additionally, some good names to look up include Mark Sisson and Robb Wolf.  This diet is gaining in popularity not merely because it helps people lose weight and feel great.  It helps everyone who tries it achieve a level of health they didn’t think was possible.  If you are struggling with anything right now (and I mean ANYTHING – from arthritis to depression to weight issues, etc) do yourself a favor and give this stuff a shot!  I did and I don’t think I’ll ever look back.

I don’t know about you all, but I’m definitely going to try out these homemade Lara bars! Don’t forget to check out Christina’s blog over at Wicked Paleo, and leave some comments here for her!  Do any of you follow the paleo diet? What do you think the hardest part would be about switching to paleo? (For me it would be the PB. Obvs.) 

My Food Philosophy

If you read a lot of fitness and nutrition blogs, you’ve probably been hearing a lot about a few things: IF (Intermittent Fasting), Paleo, Clean Eating, among other things. I do not follow IF, if only because I’m a ravenous beast in the morning when I don’t eat breakfast. Paleo doesn’t appeal to me for a number of reasons. But just because I don’t follow these practices, doesn’t mean that I think they are wrong, I just think that they might not be the best for me.

My food philosophy has little to do with strict rules and guidelines, and more to do with treating yourself well.

My very loosely followed guidelines are something like this:

  • Eat REAL foods whenever possible. Vegetables, lean meats, whole grains, real butter(!), fruits, etc. When you’re eating real, unprocessed foods, your body is better able to process and absorb the nutrients that it needs.
  • Even when snacking on “bad” foods, eat real foods!* What is a Dorito anyway? What is that color? If you want to eat some scrumptious snack foods, then by all means go ahead. But try to at least eat something that is made from just a few real-food ingredients. My general rule is that if there are things on the ingredient list that you A) can’t identify, and B) can’t pronounce, then it’s probably not real food. Stay away! *Note: I’m a firm believer that there are actually no “Bad” foods. Just try to keep this kind of stuff to a minimum, and you’ll probably want it less anyway. See below.
  • Eat more of the good stuff, and you’ll crave the fake stuff less. See, when I was in my early 20s, I ate all the convenience foods I could find. If it was frozen and made with some sort of cheese product, I was probably eating it. And it showed. And I craved it every day. Now that I eat much cleaner, even looking at that type of food in the grocery store makes my mouth go dry and my stomach turn a little bit. Stop eating non-food crap, and you’ll stop craving non-food crap!
  • Appreciate quality over quantity. Real butter. Gourmet cheeses. Eat a candy bar. Are you satisfied? Probably not. Now eat a square of high quality, gourmet dark chocolate. Are you satisfied now? Most likely.  Higher quality foods will satisfy you more than overly processed foods every time.
  • Eat some fat. Peanut butter is my lifeline, and eggs are good for you! Try having a little bit of full fat, high quality cheese, and you’ll probably be 10 times more satisfied than eating 5 pieces of low-fat cheese. Not only does quality make a difference, but fat is satiating and including a moderate amount in your diet will help you to stay more satisfied than gorging yourself with any non-fat processed replacement.

So there you go. These are my loosely followed food “rules”. I say loosely, because I believe that there is room for just about anything in everyone’s diet, within reason.  I am by no means the perfect eater, and I fall prey to sweets and snacks just like the rest of the world. But I understand that deprivation leads to self-control chaos, and indulging every once in a while helps to keep me sane and happy. Besides, what is a world without cupcakes and self-serve Fro-Yo?

Mixx Frozen Yogurt in Boston, MA. My Kryptonite.

What did I miss? What are Your food rules?