Saturday, March 10, 2012

i love my body.

four months after coming over to the other side...the paleo side....the low carb and sugar side...the veggies and fat-laden meat side, i've reached my goal weight! this girl has lost 18lbs since late-october, and is feeling awesoooome. 

i also feel slightly bad because i've been terrible about chronicling my journey and posting photos and whatnot. i mean, come on, who doesn't love to see a good before and after story?! i know i can't stop staring at those weight watchers commercials with j.hud in heavy rotation! sorry to break it to ya, but in my case you'll just have to settle for what i tell you. 

but yeah, i lost the weight without going to the gym or doing any planned exercise. not even once. and i'm  not totally proud of that fact, but it's worth noting that even lazy-ass people like me can lose weight without tremendous effort! i eat out more than a few times a week. also not awesome, but still made it! i have not counted one calorie. also, i have a weakness for mac-n-cheese and gummi bears. haribo, i just can't quit you. oh, and i like to party (read: drink booze). but the good things i consumed have won over the bad, and here i am! all 150 pounds of me. i just want to throw these things out there, so you know that i'm NOT perfect, i am human, i have weaknesses.

there is so much i want to say about how things have gone and what i've learned, but in this post i think it's most important to talk about a few important points...

(1) people should be willing to enrich themselves with the information available to them. with the intertubes, it's easier than ever to educate yourself about the subject of your choosing nowadays. yeah, a there is a lot of noise out there, too. but in general, there is so much to be gained by taking the initiative to educate yourself. case and point....look at the republican party. 

i'm not not to soapbox too much on this, but my transition into the paleo lifestyle started with wanting to learn more about how my body worked, and how there HAD to be a better way than going to the gym  all day everyday. i've since learned not only about alternative eating habits, but many other amazing things and met some incredible people who have not only transformed the way i think about what i eat, but the world!

(2) cutting out shitty foods is not as hard as you think! especially when you are eating things that are natural and rich in fat! now, note my statement a few paragraphs up: i loves my mac-n-cheese. there's no way around it, that's a paleo failio. but one of my paleo life principles is not being overly-righteous about the rules, but instead learning about what is in what you eat, knowing what goal you want to achieve and how what you are eating will help get you closer or further away from that goal. so, while cheesy noodles have no place in the primal eating world, i know that having it once in a while will bring me joy (and a nap afterwards). so when i eat it, it's because i want to and i don't feel guilty afterward. yet at the same time, i'm not eating mac and gummi's everyday. bonus: limiting the things that you so enjoyed at one time makes it THAT much better when you allow yourself to eat it. or you may realize that it's no longer worth eating and you scrap it all together. either way, a win.

(3) exercise IS important. it's true, i have decided to stop trying convince myself that i like working out. clearly i don't because i can find a million excuses in the world to be doing something else that is not going to the gym or popping in a jillian michaels dvd when i have spare time. but i do know that it's essential for health, and also that my pound dropping was not 100% fat, but also some muscle that i doubt i had an awful lot of to begin with. one of the things that i promised myself was if and when i hit 150 on the scale, i would start exercising. and so i will. but i'm coming at it in a new way. no more cardio-rich workouts when i run for miles or fight with the treadmill. i'm planning to focus on resistance and strength and some high-intensity interval training. if you have some info you'd like to share on this, please send away. right now, i'm looking at mark sisson's primal blueprint fitness guide for starters.

(4) :::brace yourself, i'm about to say some real hippie shit now::: food isn't the only way bad things get into your body. take a minute to think about the other stuff you put in or on your body that may not be so awesome. things like shampoo, deodorant, lotion, prescription family and friends back on the east coast like to take jabs at me for being "real california" after less than a year in san francisco, but it's true -- you have to think beyond what advertisements tell about what is good for you. 

deodorant has ingredients like aluminum and triclosan that some believe can cause cancer or alzheimer's. whether that is true or not, you have the choice to NOT put something of which you don't know the long-term biochemical effects in your blood stream. 

same goes for chemicals often absorbed into your scalp. there are all kinds of interesting synthetic ingredients they put into shampoos and conditioners and other treatments to help you achieve various hair looks and effects. take the time to google some of the ingredients on the back of the bottle or box. find out what they are and what kind of effect they can have on your body's ecosystem.

if you want to achieve a healthy lifestyle, you really have to take a look at the all of the elements contributing to it. not just food, but all the factors you encounter everyday. there are going to be some things that you cannot control, but there will be many that you can. and if you decide you want to keep using secret to tame your pits because it's strong enough for a man and you feel you need that kind of coverage, that's okay as long as you think about it and make that decision for yourself. i just encourage you to empower yourself to do that, and not abdicate the privilege to people who are trying to get your money.

soooo, yeah. that's my brain dump for now. please ask me questions about any or all of this. i'd love to hear people's thoughts!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

i told you so.

i know i've been MIA for a while, but i swear i've been thinking about this blog everyday. i'm not going to write you a novel today, but i did want to throw up a quick post about something polotek sent me today. which i LOVE. because it's true. otherwise i wouldn't be 14lbs lighter today than i was 13 weeks ago.

i also love it because this infographic is based from the book i've been telling everyone to read!

Saturday, December 31, 2011

how we get thin.

eating paleo is our choice. and we feel that it is one of the greatest choices we have made in taking care of ourselves. we are fully aware that there is more we can be doing ::ahem, exercise:: but we are confident about it putting us far ahead of where we were before.

we've been traveling up and down the east coast for the last couple weeks, visiting friends and family, and aside from our pending nuptials in september, our new eating lifestyle has been a hot topic of discussion when catching up with friends and family.
"what's this paleo thing all about? is this another one of those fad diets? isn't it just atkins? fat makes you fat -- how can you eat all that fat?!? there is no way i can not eat carbs, i love carbs too much!"
first let me talk about why we picked up the torch...
we've lost at least 25lbs between us in the last couple months, and we have never felt better. a visit to the doctor will be happening relatively soon as well, just to confirm that our levels of cholesterol, blood pressure and other factors are where they should be. but we have had more energy above all else, we sleep and think better, AND we don't count calories -- probably the biggest win of all. 

it's a simple and also a complicated way of life, at least for now, but put briefly: we do not eat grains, starches, legumes or added sugar. we eat lots of fatty meats and vegetables and many fruits. whenever possible, we try to eat animals or their products that are grass-fed or pastured.

is this a fad diet for us? polotek and i don't think so. for one thing, we've never stuck with something health-related as long as we have with this. other diets fail mostly because we are usually miserable. or tired. or bored. this feels like a permanent change. 

plus, it just makes sense. i mentioned in my last post about reading "why we get fat" by gary taubes. that book, and plenty of other reading material i've come across very clearly outlines some of the problems with the western diet, the major problem of obesity in our society, and how what is dished to us as a solution (basically the calories in < calories out model) is unsustainable for significant weight loss and/or maintaining it. i mean, tell me who REALLY is going to count how many calories they take in and burn everyday for the rest of their lives...? not me. i've tried. and failed. again and again...and again. 

now, i'm not going to tell you that we will never have a piece of bread or a noodle or a gummi bear for the rest of our lives. but those are treats for us, and are much less present in what we eat than a couple months ago. balance is key. we can still indulge once in a while and come out ahead of where we would be had we not adopted our new lifestyle.

and all that fat?! yes, i was amazed at first, too. then i picked up a book and read more about how it all works. EATING FAT DOES NOT MAKE YOU FAT. not if you are eating the right kinds of it and not deranging your metabolism by combining it with foods that significantly raise your blood sugar. keeping the ratio of omega-6 to omega-3s around 4:1 is great for preventing health problems. read about it. that's why we eat grass-fed or pastured. eating fatty meat accompanied by refined carbs or processed foods is a no-go. so just have some vegetables with it, instead.

and people also ask, isn't paleo just the atkins diet? they share some similar principles, but they vary at points. i'm putting this venn diagram below to help with comparison.


polotek and i call ourselves 'paleo', but when you look at the main principles of what that entails, we actually skew in the "primal" direction. but i kind of group paleo and primal into one group, since i've found that people have lots of variations in what works for them.

at this point in the conversation with our folks, people say that they can't give up the carbs. polotek's brother even commented that when he previously tried to cut carbs out of his eating, he felt like he couldn't get full. he needed the carbs to feel like he'd had enough to eat. which brings me to this: changing the way you eat is ALWAYS about having 'this' and not 'that'. in no case can you 'have your cake and eat it, too'. if you feel like you need carbs and sugar, and can't imagine living with them, then you probably won't have much success with a paleo lifestyle, or hardly any other diet change.

as i said before, it's not the end of the world if you have an indulgence here or there. after all, quality of life is what matters most. educate yourself on what's in your food and how it makes an impact on your body. then make a solid choice about what is most important to you. it would be a major win if you even decided to only allow yourself to eat whole wheat or whole grains, and nothing refined. or just cut out foods with added sugar or high sugar content. and start small, you don't have to change it all overnight. incorporate one thing at a time at your own pace. find what works for your body and your mind.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

why we get fat.

thanksgiving came and went. i decided to set my paleo ways aside for a few days (not just turkey day, i kind of started a little before then), and now i'm back at it.

here are a few pictures highlighting the indulgent pleasures polotek and i enjoyed over the holiday...

i baked brie in crescent roll dough with apricot preserves, and i made a slammin' crab dip. 

instead of roasting a whole turkey, i opted for one of olivier's turkey roti. it was delicious. obviously.

the spread. 
we had some friends over for dinner potluck-style, and it definitely worked out great. the line up: turkey roti, honeybaked ham, mac-n-cheese, greens with smoked turkey, garlic mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, brussel sprouts, cranberry sauce, salad with pomegranate seeds and homemade biscuits. also an amazing pumpkin gingerbread and mulled wine were in the mix. at the end, there was still a crap ton of food left, but we gave away generous take-home containers of all the food, since most of it we can't eat.

my curiosity of the damage done was killing me friday morning, so i jumped on the scale. i was up two pounds from my lowest weigh-in couple weeks ago. not terrible. i got back on track with eating paleo since then, and today i scaled up. turns out i'm now down more than i was before last week. six and a half pounds -- how do you like THEM apples?! i like them a LOT.

a couple interesting observations:

my plate. full of yum.
* i tried really hard and could NOT eat all the food on my plate. my major effort got me through a little more than half of the food you see above. i've noticed that i can eat significantly less food than before going paleo and be really full. mind you, i have NOT been starving myself in any way. when i get hungry, i eat. and i don't count calories. i eat until i am full. but once i am full, i stop.

* eating starches and grains during the few days i did, i could notice some differences in the way my body behaved. most notably, i was getting really tired really fast. i also felt sick to my stomach a couple times after eating carb heavy foods.... coincidence?

* eating potatoes, pizza, pasta and sweet things just didn't seem as rewarding as i had hoped. i mean, sometimes i can really fiend for these things, but actually giving myself the chance to eat it was much less climactic then i thought it would be. this makes me hopeful that i will eventually be able to easily overcome my urges. knowing that the reward is not worth the cheat... it's all about the mental challenge. if you can put the cookie, bagel, or muffin down and pick up a piece of sausage, strawberry, or an egg, you will do yourself a great service.

this brings me to the title of my blog post -- "why we get fat"...

i'm at the end of reading the book by that title, which has pointed out and driven home many things that i have considered and questioned about what is preached to us about how and what we should eat.

i could probably fit those things in several blog posts, and i very well may, because there was so much important and interesting information in that book about how we in westernized cultures are as fat as we are today and don't know any better. clearly there are a number of factors that come into play, but there are some simple things that people can do to improve their health, lose weight, increase their energy, and better their brain function - but they are not things that are told to us from the powers that be, like the national institutes of health, or the american heart association, or the government.

the things we should be doing are too often dismissed as quackery or gimmicks, but this book highlights study after study, scientific and historic evidence of how our bodies and biochemistry work. i'll admit that things get a bit redundant at times so the author can drive his point home, but in the end, i consider myself much more enlightened than before i downloaded this to my ipad.

it's a read i highly recommend, and intend to discuss with the world in the coming weeks.

Friday, November 18, 2011

eating this week.

i'm happy to report that my scale numbers have been trending downward. yesterday's weigh-in has me down a little more than 6lbs. i rewarded myself by having garlic naan with my indian food lunch. so yum...

i'm interested to know how other paleo grubbers fare with eating / cooking on short time. by and large, that seemed to be the story of my week. here's a look into some of the things i had...

i had deji bulgogi (marinated grilled pork) twice this week from delicia cafe. i stumbled across this place because it's right across the street from my office. i dig it. instead of rice, they gave me a little salad. it also came with kimchi, pickles, and some kind of sauteed greens. and i added a little sriracha to it, cause it's delicious.

deji bulgogi
i happened to make an awesome quick dinner this week. and it was literally because i looked through the menus of five or six restaurants first and decided that i either (a) didn't want what they had, (b) didn't feel like going there to pick it up, or (c) didn't feel like waiting an hour for delivery because my hand would be chewed off by then. 

as a result, i went in the fridge a grabbed the first three things i saw: meguez sausage from oliviers (without casing), sweet peppers left over from some dish i made last week, and bok choy that came with the farm fresh delivery. this is by far one of the simplest and tastiest fly meals i've done. i didn't even add any seasonings to it. 

all i did was brown the sausage in a large pan, then added the peppers (cut in half) and the chopped bok choy, and let it cook with a lid on the pan. it probably took 15 minutes tops to make.

merguez, peppers and bok choy

and i had a sweet treat on wednesday. i got turned on to hail merry products by a friend, and though you shouldn't eat these too often, it definitely beats your average dessert if you are fiending for something sweet. the meyer lemon and persian lime flavors are to DIE for. i got them at the whole foods in soma for a co-worker's birthday (she is also paleo), and they were a hit with the whole staff. note that the staff was definitely skeptical before trying it. i guess i would just advise you to try to abstain from eating an entire one in one sitting, if possible. 

lemony awesome.

i know. that is asking a lot. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

some kind of a food guide.

this may prove helpful to some -- here are a couple places that i've been giving my business... this list is potrero/soma-centric because that is where i spend almost all of my time in the city.

where to buy:

olivier's butchery - best meat in town! you know it's for real when more of the items are listed in french than english. the butcher, olivier cordier has it all, and it is GOOD. his shop is in dogpatch on 3rd and illinois, and reason number 8798 why i love my neighborhood. we get grass-fed beef and lamb from here, and pastured pork. he is so enthusiastic about his meat, and you can ask all kinds of questions about it. they know what they are doing. love this place.

my purchase today: this much meat cost about $55, and will be good for many meals!
farm fresh to you - we get a regular box every two weeks! i love the stuff we get from here, and it changes with each box. i like to be challenged to cook with the stuff we get (this week we have bok choy and persimmons, whaaaa?), but the best part is you can tell them what things NOT to send you, and how often you want your delivery. and you can look on the website to check what is coming in your next delivery beforehand.

gluten-free reviewer grocery: also on illinois, a few blocks down from olivier's at mariposa, has some really cool things they carry in their shop - like assorted seaweed snacks and kale chips. there is some area of crossover with paleo eating and gluten-free diets, so a person may find a couple handy things in this shop. but be careful not to get things made with rice or corn!

whole foods - everyone knows "whole paycheck". we get mostly everything else here...eggs, butter, oils, miscellaneous fruits and veggies, etc.

trader joe's - i really heart TJs, but you gotta check the labels on the things you buy here. it's less bad than a lot of other things you could eat, but they do sell a lot of tempting processed foods. try to avoid them. one thing i buy from here a lot is their seaweed snacks. they look like this.

things i've had eating out:

south park cafe in soma - i've been there a couple times. this is one of my top choices for lunch. their "pig salad" is delish, and they have a duck leg confit thats also really good (just don't eat the potatoes!).

chez maman in potrero hill - delish burgers. just get it without the bun and salad instead of fries.

pera in potrero hill - i'm a fan of the sultan's delight -- tender lamb pieces on top of eggplant puree. it's really good.

21st amendment in soma - they have a good burger and i'm also a fan of the half a jerk chicken. so good.

seoul patch in potrero hill - polotek and i LOVE this pop-up korean-inspired lunch place housed in rocketfish. their menu isn't exactly paleo, and it changes every month, but the chef eric is really awesome and will tweak his dishes to accommodate. for example i had his torta koreana this week, but he made it into a salad for me (sans bread). i've been going here every week for the last couple months and i haven't tired of it one bit!

axis cafe in soma - been there for brunch. their braised pork dish is tasty (ordered without beans and tortilla).

pastured eggs and bacon from olivier's
ozone thai in soma - i frequent their $6 take-out lunch, usually whatever curry chicken they have that day and spicy string beans (no rice).

easy breakfasts: 

crabby eggs - i usually get a container of (real) crab meat from whole foods, and toss it in a little dijon mustard. then i lightly scramble some eggs and cook it all up in a nonstick pan. i use some emeril's essence seasoning to punch it up. it's awesome.

eggs and sausage or bacon - pretty straightforward. i usually cook the eggs in butter and bake the bacon in the oven so i can save the fat for something making kale chips!

kale chips fresh out of the oven

quick snacks:

kale chips - easy to make, fun to eat! there's a recipe that's paleo friendly and easy to follow here.

raw almonds - i try to always keep some in my bag. it's an easy snack if you are on the go and hungry. and you don't have to eat many to take the edge off.

in case of (sweet-tooth) emergency:

have a piece of fruit. low sugar fruits like berries are best, but it won't be the end of the world if you have an apple or a pear.

and dark chocolate. the darker the better. i try to keep this to a real minimum....maybe having one little square every couple days. a  new favorite is vosges dark chocolate bacon bar. oh dear god, it's so good. just one square at a time, though. 

you really can't give into the temptations overall. make sure that you are having something sweet because you choose to, not because you can't help yourself!

feel free to send me your thoughts on other sf goodies and places!

getting my caveman on.

as i mentioned before, polotek and i are easing into the paleo lifestyle, but the changes we have made have been dramatic, based on the things we ate a month ago. and he sometimes has to remind me that this IS a major transition for us. we can't expect to be perfect or not have slip-ups or rough days. we are now firmly in week 3, and i am down five pounds.

and i couldn't be happier about this, because this has been a very celebratory week -- namely, due to polotek's involvement with launching yammer pages this week. but also, it looks like i may soon be growing into a role of my own within the tech industry, and we have had some happy things happen on the wedding front, AND we have had friends come to visit us the last couple weeks... so, between all that celebrating and partying, it can be hard to keep a tight grip on what we put into our bodies. yet, we've still managed to come out on top!

i had a whole dungeness crab broiled in butter last week <3

and yes, my motivations for making this change have been primarily fueled by wanting to drop some LBs, but in doing this and learning about it, i have realized that these changes are good for other reasons, such as having our bodies operate the way they are intended to, reducing the toxins in what we eat, and being educated about where our food comes from and what is in it.

this morning polotek mentioned that a few other people he knows are interested in trying out or learning more about going paleo -- and that i should share some helpful info about what we've been doing to get them started. and i'm happy to oblige.

i'd like to start by saying that this is inevitably going to be easier for some people to do than others. i won't lie in saying that we are fortunate, because (1) we live in san francisco and have all kinds of fantastic businesses that make a point of selling local, ethical, healthy and socially-conscious foods. and (2) we can afford to purchase the high-quality foods that the paleo lifestyle requires. pastured eggs and butter from grass-fed cows DOES NOT come cheap compared to their conventional counterparts. on the same hand, i have been pleasantly surprised at how much grass-fed beef and pastured pork i have been able to get with my dime. just know that if you are seriously considering this lifestyle change, you will probably have to make some initial investments in changing over some items in your kitchen.

after some conversation and a lot of questions to my paleo friends, and a lot of googling, i have to say that i firmly believe that the best change people can make in the beginning (without going full-out cold turkey), is to cut as much grain, starch, and sugar out of what you eat as possible.

those things will keep your blood sugar high, and your body WILL use it for its first go-to source of energy. so if you want it to burn the fat, be extremely conservative with consuming bread, pasta, beans, rice, SOY, white potatoes, CORN, certain fruits and their juices, DRIED FRUIT, peanuts, candy, and even certain dairy.

i know you are probably thinking...what the flip can i eat?!?!
everything else. including fat. love the fats that nature intended for us to eat. it's good for you.

an example is my lunch today. i needed food fast, but was determined not to give in to the urge to eat something from our food blacklist. this is very difficult when you are hungry in a supermarket. but in some strange moment of clarity, i ended up getting a piece of pot roast they had in the hot foods section, and some mixed greens from the salad bar...and presto! awesome (and quick) paleo lunch.

really yummy, and it smelled SO good!

and with all that protein and fat, i got full pretty fast. below is a photo of what remained, and i really was stuffed at this point.

mmmm, leftovers.
so i think the key is, whenever humanly possible, to know what is in your food, and where it comes from.

i have been loving and enjoying: burgers (sans bun), slow-cooked beef and pork, meatballs (no breadcrumbs), greens, sausages, BACON, avocados, raw almonds, seafood, eggs, and so on...

i also know it has been significantly more difficult for polotek to stay on track while at work. his office caters lunch and dinner, and from what i can tell, the food options are not "trying-to-keep-low-blood-sugar" friendly. so i actually made him a sort of "snack pack" or "care package" of paleo-friendly snacks to keep around (kale chips, raw nuts, seaweed snacks, etc.). it's only been a week and he needs a refill.