Primal 21-Day Challenge: A Retrospective

So, the challenge is over.  Results?

Starting weight 149.3, Chest 36, Waist 31, Hips 43

Ending weight 145.5, Chest 34.5, Waist 29, Hips 42

I would call that success.  I would have liked to end the challenge at least at 142, but I will take it.

Outside of the challenge, I’m still adhering to it.  I’ve been eating primally and trying to exercise more.  I did have a little bit of an energy crash this afternoon.  I choose to blame damn hormones.  Overall, I feel so much better and usually have so much more energy, that it’s totally worth it to stay on.  I don’t really miss rice or bread or corn chips. I do crave sugar a bit, however.  I ate a date when I got home, but I really wanted to eat a Snickers.  But, feeling my pants be a little loose is all I need to just say no.

So, now that the challenge is over, what will I write about every day?  Well, I’ve decided that writing daily is too much – it’s too much to keep up with and too much for people to read.  It gets to be overwhelming, and overwhelming gets to be daunting, and daunting gets to be Heather Doesn’t Do It Anymore.  I do enjoy writing more regularly, however, so I will try to write at least once a week, on any one of the random topics my random blog covers – makeup, painting, conversation, hiking, biking, books, movies, recipes – anything is fair game.

Thanks for following me through this “journey.”  Man, do I ever hate it when people refer to things such as this as “journeys, ” but I’m going to do it be ironic.  It’s been a good trip, and this is but the beginning.

Primal Day 21 – The Finale

Today draws the 21 Day TOTAL BODY TRANSFORMATION!!! to a close.  Reflections?

Most clearly, I noticed two things.

1.  My energy levels were much, much better.  Except for a day here and there, I didn’t have the post-lunch energy lull, where you feel as if you just want to crawl under your desk and take a massive nap.

2.  My allergies have been so much better.  I still have that persistent feeling of needing to itch the back of the roof of my mouth with my tongue, but the head-fog and pressure behind my eyes has all but receded.  I only took Allegra 1 day out of the 21, after taking it almost daily for the past 12 months.  Amazing.  I wish I knew exactly what caused that.  Am I sensitive to gluten?  Dairy?  Carbs??  As noted in previous posts, if I drink more than 2 drinks in a sitting, my allergies tend to act up.  I start sneezing and will wake up in the night with a drippy nose.  Weird.

Over the past week, I have been cheating more than I did the first week – some Nestle dark chocolate chips here (lots o’ sugar), a low carb beer there, a bite of a breaded pork tenderloin there (but just a bite).  I did feel better – cleaner, almost – when I was more strict with myself.  My stomach was flatter too, which felt awesome.

So, how to proceed?  I plan on following the 80/20 rule.  At least 80% of the time, I will eat primally.  I will indulge in pizza or a microbrew here or there and not feel guilty about it.  It’s all about balance and moderation.

I like how my life has changed over the past few weeks.  I spend more time cooking, so we are eating food that tastes better than restaurant food, and food that is way healthier for us.  I know what I am putting into my body.  I’m experimenting with different cooking techniques and kitchen equipment.  Tim and I have eaten way more meals at the kitchen table, talking, instead of in front of the TV watching dumb mind-numbing television.  I don’t even mind washing up afterwards.  It’s kind of a relaxing ritual.  Plus, it keeps my on my feet instead of my arse.

I enjoy spending 20 minutes on a Sunday morning looking through recipes and picking out tasty, healthy meals for the week.  It’s so nice having everything planned out for the week, so we don’t end up getting Taco John’s because we don’t have anything in the house.

So, thank you, Mark Sisson, for making so much information available on the internet and introducing me to to his concept.  I look forward to what the next few months will bring.  Hopefully I will be in swimsuit shape by June for our trip to Ocracoke Island!

I will try to remember to take measurements tomorrow morning.  I have a feeling that I didn’t loose anything from last week (due to the aforementioned cheating), but that’s alright.  My health is definitely better, and that’s what’s really important.

Primal Days 19 and 20

Disclaimer:  I am writing this post whilst watching Start Trek: The Next Generation, so this post may not be as sharp and entertaining as usual.

I neglected to make a post yesterday.  Hmm… yesterday was so long ago.  What happened yesterday?  I had lunch at Exotic Thai – red curry with pork, to be exact.  It was delicious but gave me brief, sharp, shooting pains in my stomach.  I cannot account for it, since the curry was comprised of all the same types of ingredients I’ve been eating steadily for the past 2.5 week.  Since I didn’t eat the accompanying rice, the lunch was rather small – just the small bowl of curry.  Consequently, I was hungry all afternoon. The only primal snacks I had were pecans, walnuts, and almonds, so I ate a bunch of them.  I probably consumed way too many calories.

For supper we went to Azteca.  Actually, we went to Los Agaves first, but the hostess sat us by the kitchen entrance, in the north-facing section of the restaurant.  We looked at each other, looked at the kitchen entrance, replete with wash buckets and mops, and got up and walked out.  We went to Azteca instead.  Our table was much better, albeit louder, as there was a mariachi band playing a few feet away.  I ordered the fajita taco salad.  It was pretty good, but the steak was a little gristly.

Today I was supposed to do more IF (intermittent fasting).  I lasted until about 10AM when I made another delicious shake of blueberries, coconut milk, shredded coconut, pecans, dark cocoa powder, a date and ice cubes.

For lunch we went to 11th Street Precinct.  I had one of their delicious grilled tenderloins (bunless, of course), topped with lettuce, tomato, pickles, and mustard.  I got cole slaw instead of fries.  It was very tasty.

We ate supper at home, and it was delicious.  Based on a recipe I found here, I boiled a chicken neck and back in the leftover chicken stock from Thursday night’s dinner, adding carrots, onions, celery, garlic, and parsley to the stock.  We brought it to an almost boil and then simmered it for 2 hours.  Once the stock was close to being finished, I sautéed the onions and garlic in butter, then added chopped up carrots and celery, sautéing for a few minutes more.  Then we added the strained chicken stock, some chopped cabbage and thyme and basil, simmering the soup for 25 minutes, at which point we added the leftover chicken from Thursday’s supper.  We let the whole batch cook for 10 minutes more.

It turned out super good – one of the best batches of chicken soup I’ve ever made.  Yum.

For exercise, I did a modified PEM workout today and also walked to the QCBC bulletin board on the bike path and updated the board.

Tomorrow is my last official day of the diet, but I plan on keeping up with the primal principles.

Primal Day 18

I tried a new recipe today, Sesame Chicken and Rice.  It is a primal recipe, so of course, it wasn’t made out of real rice.  It was made out of cauliflower rice, which is basically ground up cauliflower cooked with chicken broth, onions, and garlic.

It was a very complicated recipe – one that caused me to use the majority of dishes in our kitchen – even all of the ice cube trays.  First you have to stuff a chicken full of seasonings, then boil it for 1/2 an hour, than plunge it into a cold water bath, then rub it down with sesame oil, then let it cool, then chop it up into pieces.  I ended up pulling off the skin because it looked gross, so it seemed pointless to have rubbed it all over with expensive sesame oil.

Between these steps you have to mix up 7 or so ingredients to make a “fiery ginger sauce.” You also need to chop up ingredients for and cook the cauliflower rice.

The recipe was a lot of work, and while the chicken tasted ok, and I liked the ginger sauce, the tastiness of these items did not equal the amount of work that went into creating them.

The cauliflower rice gave me fits, too.  I couldn’t get all the liquid to cook off, so it was pretty runny.  Even being runny, at first it tasted really good, but the more I ate it, the more it grossed me out.  This is the second time I’ve cooked cauliflower in the guise of something else.  I’ve also made cauliflower “mashed potatoes.”  Those, too, at first tasted delicious, but the more I ate them, the less I liked them.  I am crossing cauliflower cooked as other foods off my list.

So, this is the second recipe I’ve tried and tossed.  But, at least we are trying new things and experimenting.  Most of the meal will be edible tomorrow too.  I can put the chicken on a salad and use the ginger sauce as salad dressing – add some avocado, and it will be delicious.  I also saved the chicken broth, so we’ll probably make a nice primal soup with it – add some carrots, celery, onions, and cabbage.

Primal Day 17 – Regression Analysis

Today I was supposed to:

  1. Eat all meals outside of the home and stay primal-aligned.
  2. Do a full-length PEM workout (2 to 3 sets).
  3. Lifestyle – Reach Out – Talk to a family member or friend about going primal.

I did none of things things today.

The day started off on the wrong foot.  I reheated some of the frittata from last night, and I have to agree with Tim.  It is way overspiced.  It was almost nauseating.  It did not agree with my stomach at all.  I think it actually semi-poisoned us last night because Tim and I both slept horribly – woke up every hour, couldn’t get back to sleep, etc.  I am blaming the cumin.  It’s a hell-spice.

Then I had a meeting all day at work, and we worked through lunch, which was pizza (of course).  Short of eating all the toppings off (which doesn’t seem to be a super professional thing to do in a work-setting), there is not much you can do to make pizza primal.  So I ate it.  Two pieces to be exact.  My stomach didn’t explode, for which I was grateful.

After the excruciatingly long meeting, I caved into my desire for a refreshing drink and had 2 Amstel Lights (they were better than I thought they would be).  Tim and I went to Van’s for supper, and I had a not-very-primal supper of 3 fried mushrooms, a hamburger with no bun, and pencil-thin super crispy, salty fries.

Before you shake your head in disgust, look at the positive side.  Had I not been doing this primal diet at all, I probably would have had a bagel for breakfast, 3 or 4 pieces of pizza for lunch, a cookie and/or the little cakes they offered for desert, 2 or 3 carb-heavy microbrews, a full hamburger with fries and the bun, and at least 6 fried mushrooms.  I may have also dipped my fries in the ranch dressing.  BUT, I didn’t it.  I ate good bad, not bad bad.  I’m learning!

In regards to the full-length PEM workout, I tried.  I really tried, but my lats hurt like a mother from my “pull ups” Monday night.  I couldn’t even do more than 6 pushups because I am so sore.  Instead I did some other exercises to work the glutes and the rotator cuff.  Now I have a headache, though.  My third one of the day.  Is it because of the cumin?  Not eating carbs?  Eating too many carbs?  Mold in the humidifier filter?  Allergies?  Who the heck knows?

On the third point, I didn’t really “reach out” to anyone today.  I did tell my boss that he should go primal because he thinks he may be allergic to wheat.  If you can’t eat wheat, you might as well go primal.  I don’t think he seriously listens to me though – to his detriment, I say!

So today was overall not a good day, primally speaking.  Tim encouraged me, though, by saying that he noticed that I look more toned.  It was just the positive comment I needed to refocus myself to do better tomorrow.  I only have 4 more days of the official diet and then I’m on my own – for better or for worse.

Good night, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite.

Primal Day 16

Today’s big news is that I tried another new recipe:  A Fajita Frittata with Avocado Salsa.  It was pretty simple to make, once all the ingredients were cut up.  Two notes about this recipes – be sure to spread the seasoning evenly over the meat.  I didn’t do a good job of this, so there were some very seasoned bits of flank steak.  Secondly, maybe my pan was not hot enough (or maybe our cast iron skillet is broken), but I had to cook everything at least 2 to 3 minutes longer than the recipe called for.  Except at the end that is – you are supposed to finish up the frittata in the broiler, and that took the 5 minutes designated by the recipe.

I thought the frittata was pretty tasty, but Tim was not a fan.  I liked the avocado salsa too (avocado, lime, green onions and jalapeno), but Tim didn’t think the green onions mixed well.  Overall he liked the supper, but it wasn’t one of his favorites.  I’ll be happy to eat it for breakfast tomorrow morning though.  I took a picture, if you want to see what it looks like – check out the Instagram feed to the right.

Today my energy levels were a little lower, and my stomach was a little rumbly.  I was trying to figure out what I may have eaten that was outside of the primal norm.  I had 1 bite of Tim’s breaded tenderloin, but that was the only thing I could think of, and I don’t think that would affect me much.  Let’s just chalk it up to hormones.

For exercise today, I slapped on a hat and some boots and took a 2+ mile walk outside after work.  It was chilly, but it was really nice to be out-of-doors.  I walked in the snow a lot of way, partially to avoid the ice and partially to get a better workout.  I think it worked because I am T I R E D now.

Tomorrow at work I have a meeting from 8:30AM to 2PM.  My ass is already sore just thinking about it.

I caved tonight, just a little bit, and had some dark chocolate chips for a snack after supper.  They are Hersey’s and non-organic, non-free-range, non-free-trade, non-super-high-cocoa-content.  But they were tasty none-the-less.  And since they were in such small pieces, I could eat several of them.  Sometimes the act of eating itself is comforting.  That’s a huge reason why I like pistachios so much.  You can eat them for a long time because you have to shell them as you go.  It’s fun.

Good thing I only have 5 days left because these posts are getting less and less interesting, even to me and I am writing the goddam things.

Take care, sleep tight, pray for sunny weather and a mild, ocean-scented breeze tomorrow.

Primal Days 13 – 15

Um, yeah, so I’m a little behind.  Weekends are like that.  Busy.

So, where did I leave off?  Oh yeah – Saturday.  We went to the Farmer’s Market, ate primally I’m sure for breakfast and lunch, saw “Haywire,” ate HyVee Chinese (chicken kabob instead of egg roll and Mandarin Chicken with no rice).  I’m trying to remember…  All the days are blending together.  Let me just hit the highlights.

Tim got the Power Tower put together.  I am supposed to be able to (eventually) do 5 complete, real pull-ups.  At this point, I can do 0.  None.  Zip.  All I can do at this point is hop off a chair and lower myself down until my arms fail.  I have spindly, weak arms.  BUT.  BUT!!  I am up to 10 bent knee pushups!  That’s 4 more than I could do 2 weeks ago.  Progress, sweet progress.

What else?  Oh, I made my first primal shake. I was kind of craving ice cream, but instead I put all the following into the blender: ice cubes, frozen blueberries, dark cocoa powder, a frozen banana, a date, shredded coconut, pecans and coconut milk.  I tried to blend it all up in our 14-year-old, seldom-used blender, but nothing was happening, so I had to transfer the contents to the food processor, where everything blended up pretty nicely.  But, boy oh boy, was it messy – dark as night, delicious shake residue all over the food processor, the counter, the blender, my fingers, the bar, the  stool, the phones, the bartender – everywhere.  I thought it was damn delicious though.  Tim thought the darkness was off-putting.  Check out the pic in my Instagram feed (see the link on the right).

What else?  It was cloudy and depressing today.  I feel happier now that I have done a little exercise, but I was feeling pretty down in the dumps earlier.  I was hating my blue and tan cubicle and my stupid, uncomfortable office chair that makes my back hurt like a mother every Monday morning.  Argh.  I am so looking forward to sunshine and longer days.  I’m itching to get outside, so I can do some sprint workouts.

Today I was supposed to do my first “intermittent fast, ” which is where you try not to eat until you experience strong sensations of hunger.  I didn’t really do that.  Since I’m on a schedule at work, I kind of have to eat when I have my lunch break.  I should have tried it for supper, but, well, I didn’t.

I’m also supposed to get some “cave time” – time to disengage from digital stimulation.  Mark recommends going hiking for an hour or meditating on a park bench.  It’s 28 degrees and drizzly outside, so that doesn’t work for me today.  We need to move to California.

Tomorrow I am supposed to do a 20-60 aerobic workout, but we have to go grocery shopping tomorrow night, so I’m going to try to go at 5AM.  I feel way happier during the day if I work out in the morning, but it’s so difficult and unpleasant.  Wish me luck.

So, 2 weeks down, one more to go.  So far it’s been a positive experience.  My allergies have improved.  I’m down to 144, and I’ve lost another inch all around.  My stomach seems to be happier.  I’ve had some mood swings, but I have those anyway. I’m excited to see how I feel next Monday, after the 21-day challenge is over.

Take care, and have a pleasant evening!

Primal Day 12

Breakfast – Two hardboiled eggs cut into chunks with 1/4 an avocado chunked up, both drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with salt and pepper.  Super, super delicious.

Lunch – It was snowing, so I didn’t want to trek home and back. Instead I went to the mall and had 2 entrees (no rice) from Panda Express.  I had Fire Chicken (chicken with pepper strips) and an all veggie entree (cabbage, onion, zucchini, etc.).  It was actually really tasty.  I’m sure it had more bad oils and sugars than I would use at home, but it was  good lunch for $5.35.

Supper – Tim had a long, rough day because of the weather, so I met him at Creekside on his walk home.  I had a glass of wine (a merlot that tasty good at the top and not so good at the bottom).  Then we walked over to Filling Station where I got the Filling Station Burger (a hamburger with an egg and bacon on top) with no bun and coleslaw instead of fries.  Again, I know this was not as healthy as something I would make at home, but for a supper out, it was good, and it was better for me than what I would have eaten before I went primal.  I would have eaten the bun and lots o’ fries.  And I would have had at least 1 if not 2 beers, but I had none.  A piece of cheese snuck in under the egg on the burger, though.  If I had read the menu more closely, I would have asked for them to leave that off.  Right after eating, my stomach started to get bloated – something I’ve notice happening whenever I eat cheese. I love cheese, but it doesn’t love me.

I was supposed to a PEM workout yesterday, but I ran out of time.  Instead I shoveled the steps and sidewalks around our house, walked to Creekside and Filling Station and then home.  It wasn’t hard-core exercise, but it was movement.  Walking in snow, even just a few inches takes a lot of energy.

Today is the Farmer’s Market, so I’m trying to figure out what I want to get.  I’m a little beefed out, so maybe some chicken?  No one at the FM sells grass-fed pork.  I might have to order some of that and some US wild-caught salmon from US Wellness Meats.  They seem to be the vendor of choice for the Primal crowd.

I have several CAFO pork chops in the fridge that I bought last week, so today I’m going to make either pork posole or pork fried rice.  The “rice” is actually made of grated cauliflower.  I’m really curious to try it.

Oh, and I was down to 144 this morning!  Six more pounds, and I will be able to wear my Luckys again.  I’m gonna be gifted all natural and burstin the seams.  Konichiwa bitches!

Primal Day 11

Maybe Day 11 is the day when your body realizes it’s not getting any carbs.  Ever again.  And it rebels.  Or maybe Day 11 is the day you babysit a bake sale for 2 hours, touching, smelling, absorbing sugar through your pores.  And it makes you crave sugar something fierce.

I did good all the way up until this evening.  I had one of my omelette muffins for breakfast (which were a big hit at the bake sale).  For a snack I had one of my primal cookies (which got qualified accolades from the bake sale, “Yeah, they’re good, for not having any sugar or flour in them”).  For lunch, leftover steak soup was on the table.  For an afternoon snack – macademia nuts, walnuts, and celery sticks.  For supper – leftover chicken tacos with avocado, salad, and onions.

After supper is when my resolve finally broke down.  I’m drinking glass of wine #2 (I’m drinking it even though it’s making my nose all runny), and I ate another primal cookie.  I also had a bite of  an almond roca cookie from the bake sale.  I WANT to eat the following: rice krispy treats, dark chocolate walnut cookies, cheese, a  big bowl of ice cream (which I don’t even like that much) and a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.  Hopefully I can stop myself.

So, today there was a minor set back.  Tomorrow I’m sure I’ll be back on track.  At least I made it to the gym today!

Primal Day 10

I don’t mean this blog to be my daily diary, but since how you eat has such a huge impact on how you feel and how much energy you have, I’m going to tell you all about day – albeit quickly and succinctly, hopefully.

This morning before work, I started some crockpot chicken tacos.  Then over lunch I ran to the grocery store because I decided that it would behoove me to make some primal treats for our Junior Achievement Fundraiser Bake Sale tomorrow.  (I decided to make primal chocolate chip cookies and primal omelette muffins.)  Then I went home and reheated some of yesterday’s beef soup.  When I got home from work this evening, I did the dishes from last night and then shredded the cooked chicken, chopped up some lettuce, grated some cheese (for Tim), ate supper with Tim and then made the cookies and the muffins and then did the dishes all again.  I sat down and watched a Lost episode with Tim, and then I did sets of planks, pushups, squats, side planks, and supermans.

To you that may not sound like that unusual of a day.  For my old self, that was almost unheard of.  I used to come home from work (starving), eat supper as soon as possible, sit on the couch to watch TV for a couple of hours, crawl into bed at 8:30 to read for 1/2 an hour, and the go to sleep.

So I would say that my energy levels on this eating plan are way, way better.

We had a team meeting at Azteca today – all the free chips and salsa you could want, but I resisted.  I wasn’t even that tempted, which was surprising because I LOVE chips and salsa.  But I knew that if I ate it, I wouldn’t feel good afterwards, and that was enough to keep me from it.

It might be more of a struggle to stay on point tomorrow, however.  My team is bringing TONS of delicious treats.  My treats are not delicious.  They are OK, especially for things that are good for you, but they are not deeeelicious in the way a Snickers cupcake or a Scotcheroo is delicious.  The cookies turned out OK.  I think I may have burnt them, but it’s kind of hard to tell because they are basically made of nuts and dates.  They look really dark, but nuts and dates are dark.  They don’t taste burnt, really.  If no one buys them tomorrow, I will definitely eat them.  They aren’t…bad.  The omelette muffins TASTE really good, but look a little silly.  After I took them out off the oven, they kind of collapsed into themselves.  They look weird but taste delicious.  The recipe called for 1/8 cup of mayo.  I toyed with idea of making my own mayo (found tons of good primal recipes), but I’ve already spent more on these treats than anyone will be willing to donate, so I had to draw the line somewhere.

So, synopsis for today – lots of energy.  My stomach felt better than yesterday; I avoided all dairy to be on the safe side.  I intended to go to the gym to get in some cardio, but it was super cold, and when I drove by the gym, it looked super busy.  So I super didn’t go.

Now I better head off to bed to read and to get my eyes away from the freakish, unnatural laptop light.

Good night all!