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Insomnia struck, big time, last night and I was up around 4 a.m. So not fun. I find when I eat out and/or drink, I don’t sleep well. It’s probably just an excess salt or sugar in my system. Anyway, I got up a busied myself with my to-do list: check email, finish an article, make more Paleo muffins (two kinds), cook bacon, etc, etc, etc.

Early morning (around 5 a.m.): Earl Gray tea, banana and almond butter.

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Breakfast: Eaten hurriedly in the car on the way to snowshoe. Two pumpkin muffins and some bacon.

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We made it FOUR miles in two hours–speed demons today! Mr. Perini, our snowshoe guide, brought us hot chocolate in a thermos for after.

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We had lunch a couple hours later. I had a Paleo egg and bacon salad with veggies and Trader Joe’s spicy guacamole dip.

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Andrew and I had more hot chocolate this afternoon after we met friends for curling at Canalside. I. WAS. SO. COLD. Like, I couldn’t feel my toes.

After we got home, Andrew napped (we were both beat, but I’m just not a napper) and I putzed around, doing more things to get ready for school. I rearranged the pantry (not exactly essential for school, but I wanted to get it back in order after moving the non-Paleo items from easy reach; I ended up re-doing it so less-healthy grain snacks–like pretzels–are no longer at eye level, and better options like dried fruit and nuts are more prominent) and made some containers of trail mixes and homemade Larabars. Of course, in doing so, I snacked on various fruit and nut varieties as I was portioning them out.

Dinner: Bison burgers on sweet potato ‘pancake’ buns with broccoli slaw. So good! The pancakes were a bit sweet and perfectly paired with a bit of that spicy guac dip. They would also be great for breakfast with a little syrup. Andrew even liked them!

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We spent the evening doing a variety of tasks, like relocating the Christmas decorations in the basement, folding clothes, painting a baseboard in the kitchen, and of course, cleaning up from dinner. That grill pan makes such a mess of the stove! I also wiped down the appliances and vacuumed the kitchen, all in the name of getting ready to go back to school. When I was finally finished, all I wanted was something cold and sweet: black cherry froyo with some dark chocolate syrup.

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I made my first set of Paleo muffins yesterday–pumpkin pecan. Paleo baking often includes an ‘alternate’ flour, such as coconut or almond, and more eggs than usual. I was very pleased with the texture of the muffins! Coconut flour has more protein and fiber than regular flour, which affects the texture a bit.

Breakfast: Pumpkin muffin with Kerrygold butter, one egg with a bit of cheddar and half an andouille sausage, plus sauerkraut.

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After kickbox, I had errands to run, so I brought along some cranberry kefir.

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Lunch: I was running late for my Trader Joe’s date with a girlfriend, so I wolfed down some of our ‘Thanksgiving dinner’ leftovers before jumping in the shower.

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That held me from 12:30 to 5:30, when I figured I should eat SOMETHING as I was on my way to happy hour to meet Andrew and some friends at a local favorite, Brew Works. I had a coconut Larabar in my bag so I had that. Good thing, since we spent almost two hours there before deciding to walk next door to 189 Public House for dinner with one of our couple friends.

Dinner: OMG it was phenomenal! I got the duck with blueberry sauce and roasted root vegetables. So good.

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We ended our night across the street at Yotality (love that we walked to all our stops last night) where I got a mix of my favorite flavors: red velvet, mint cookie and salted caramel pretzel. A cheat, but a good cheat.

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I took the morning off from the gym in favor of getting some things done around here. I made a meal to bring to a friend who had twins…four months ago. I figured it’s not like life really ‘calms down’ at any point (she also has two older kiddos), so why not? I cleaned my desk, did dishes, made some banana bread with chocolate chips to bring to my friend as well (don’t worry, the leftover loaf went in the freezer!), made Paleo pumpkin muffins, did more dishes and prepped lunch for Andrew and myself. Whew! It was a glorious, productive, stay-at-home kinda morning.

Breakfast: I tried the other porridge recipe, Tahini-Pumpkin, but didn’t love it. Next time, I would sub almond butter for the tahini. It’s so bitter to me!

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Mid-morning snack: Same as Tuesday–plain yogurt with raspberries and maple syrup.

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Lunch: Leftover Chinese Five-Spice Lettuce Cups. Mine turned into a salad with some avocado.

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I had a busy afternoon–dropped the meal off with my friend and. Is ited for a bit, then straight to a story interview, followed by the gym around 5:30. I snacked on some almonds in the car between stops, and I’d brought a small glass of kefir in the car for after my workout.

Dinner: Thanksgiving in January! Thanksgiving meatballs (pork), roasted sweet potatoes, roasted Brussels sprouts and homemade cranberry sauce.

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Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite as yummy as I though it would be. The cranberry sauce was very tart (recipe from the Paleo cookbook), the Brussels sprouts were somewhat bland and not the greatest texture (they’d been frozen) and the meatballs were just alright. Good thing sweet potatoes can be relied on to always be fantastic!

To end the night: Lemon Ginger tea!

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Double-digits!

I think I’ve cheated (it’s so hard not to!) enough times that I don’t really feel deprived, while at the same time I wish I felt, well, deprived. We’re eating way too well to feel like we’re really missing anything. I mean, come on! We’re eating bacon and beef and yummy salads and veggies…

Breakfast: Pesto eggs and bacon before kickbox.

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Lunch: Andrew had a work meeting, so I was home alone. Tuna with a small apple and almond butter.

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Snack: Homemade hot chocolate! Almond milk, cocoa powder, brown sugar and cinnamon and nutmeg. So good!

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Dinner: I threw together some corned beef veggies and broth I found in the freezer with some pastrami and sauerkraut. Homemade applesauce on the side.

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Later in the evening, I snacked on some salted caramel peanuts and some of Andrew’s popcorn. I haven’t been feeling as ‘svelte’ this week, and I think it’s because of all the later-evening snacking. No more!

We’re about to start a movie, so I’ll make this short and sweet.

Breakfast: I tried the ‘coconutty’ porridge, made with almond butter, unsweetened coconut, coconut milk and maple syrup. Pretty good, although the ‘large serving’ wasn’t all that large and lacked protein.

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Mid-morning snack: I chose to stay home to get some ‘to-do’ items checked off the list instead of going to kickbox, and found I was hungry around 10:30. I mixed up some frozen raspberries and a drizzle of maple syrup on plain homemade yogurt.

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Lunch: I met a friend downtown for lunch and we ended up at the Hilton Garden Inn restaurant, as she works inside the building and baby, it’s cold outside. I got the tomato soup and a Cobb salad with balsamic dressing. I honestly didn’t even notice I was eating the cheese until I was two bites from being done. Paleo-fail, but everything else was right on.

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I had a very full afternoon with a trip to campus to meet my advisor and turn in my application for graduation (!!!), and while I packed a gym bag anticipating I might go straight to spin at 4:30, the timing just didn’t work out. I was leaving school way too early to hit the gym, but by the time I got home I didn’t have enough time to do anything productive before I’d have to leave again. So, I decided to cut my losses, make a cup of coffee and sit at the computer and tackle more of the to-do list.

Dinner: I made Chinese 5-Spice lettuce cups with cilantro-lime cauli-rice. Pretty good! Cauli-rice is my new favorite thing. Simply grate and sauté!

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After dinner, Andrew and I ran an errand and then decided to rent a movie. Well, this time it was Andrew’s turn to cheat. I talked him out of ordering pizza, but just barely. He’s currently digging into a Luigi’s Italian Ice (so much for trying to avoid refined sugar) and has a french bread pizza heating up in the toaster oven. I chose the most Paleo options at Tops that I could: Black Cherry Greek froyo and super dark chocolate.

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I meant to write this post over the weekend (you know, so it would seem like a wrap-up), but technically Sunday was actually Day 7, so I’m giving myself a grace period.  While I’ve been posting daily about what I’m eating (both good and bad), I haven’t gone into a lot of detail about the diet itself or what I think of it, especially as a soon-to-be dietitian.

Background:

We’re actually following Mark Sisson’s 21-Day Primal Blueprint Challenge.  He blogs at Mark’s Daily Apple about a primal lifestyle.  According to his website, http://www.primalblueprint.com, he says “The Primal Blueprint is based on lifestyle principles that have governed human health, evolution and peak performance for over two million years, and supported by respected research in the fields of epigenetics and evolutionary biology. The Primal Blueprint principles challenge many elements of Conventional Wisdom that are deeply flawed, and are making people fat, sick and burnt out – even well-meaning fitness enthusiasts who are trying to do the right thing.”  He basically asserts that a lot of things we’re doing (i.e. not getting enough sleep, playing on our phones, etc…) and eating are hurting us, and that we can be healthy by adopting a different lifestyle.  He provides TONS of easy-to-read ‘guides’ at his Primal Blueprint 101 page.

Paleo vs Primal:

As for the difference between ‘Primal’ and ‘Paleo?’  Perhaps the best explanation is here, on LIVESTRONG’S page.  Paleo seems to just be an eating plan (avoid grains and dairy), whereas Mark’s Primal Blueprint is a way of life, including stress management, sleep and exercise.  There are some diet discrepancies, which he blogs about here.  Basically, the original Paleo diet was simply an eating plan that eschewed refined sugar, grains, legumes, and dairy, as well as saturated fats.  Primal permits some full-fat dairy such as yogurt and kefir (both of which have live cultures good for our guts), as well as some soy, rice, quinoa, potatoes, red wine and dark chocolate.  Primal also embraces the health benefits of saturated fat, and the Paleo movement has in recent years, as well.

My Opinion:

Removing an entire food group is an immediate red flag for me that says ‘fad diet.’  The Paleo movement, at it’s strictest, is certainly what I would call a fad diet.  Grains, dairy and legumes all have health benefits that should not be discounted.  However, after doing some further reading, I understand some of the reasons these items are excluded.  Both eating patterns strive to eat foods that haven’t been processed, such as things that would have been available in Paleolithic times.  No matter what your beliefs about evolution are, there weren’t any Cheeze-Its in the hands of neanderthals! Wheat must be processed to produce flour and dairy has been pasteurized. Both wheat and diary are the culprits of allergies and intolerances, such as Celiacs and lactose intolerance.  Also, the eating pattern relies heavily on protein and fat, both of which aid in feeling full and satisfied longer than carbohydrates.  Also, by removing grains and dairy from you diet, you are inherently removing a lot of sugar you didn’t even know you were consuming.  Even plain yogurt has sugar!

Despite their ‘fad diet’ status, both Paleo and Primal are much more ‘lifestyle’ to me.  Think about who you see on the diets.  Cross-Fitters.  Athletes.  Fit people who care about what they put in their bodies and how their bodies function.  You don’t see fit people doing Atkins, just like you don’t see skinny people ordering diet soda at McDonald’s.  Paleo and Primal both embrace real, non-processed foods without depriving you of carbohydrates your body needs.

My personal opinion would be to incorporate small amounts of dairy (we’re talking plain yogurt, kefir and some milk) and quality grains (rice, oats, quinoa, wheat breads) in smaller amounts.  The American diet is FULL of sugar, both natural and hidden.  Instead of having toast, yogurt and fruit for breakfast (sugar, sugar and sugar), try toast, eggs and bacon (sugar, protein and fat).

Methodology:

If weight loss is your goal, a Paleo or Primal approach is an excellent way to eat.  Our bodies run on energy, which is derived from glucose, which we get from carbohydrates.  Protein builds muscle, and fat provides essential vitamins and minerals needed as well.  They’re all important.  However, when we eat too much of anything, it gets stored as fat.  However, if we constantly give our bodies a steady stream of carbs (grains, dairy, fruit and vegetables), we never have a chance to dip into those fat stores and burn them off.  When you decrease your carb intake, your body responds by turning excess fat into energy.  That’s why the Atkins diet works so well–in the beginning.  However, a no-carb approach isn’t healthy or really very practical.  Paleo and Primal eating patterns incorporate higher-quality carbs and seek to time them with daily exercise.

How easy is it to follow?

Well, it’s super easy at home!  If you’ve been following my daily posts, you can see that our meals at home have been spot-on.  I’m not going all-out and pitching half my fridge and pantry, as I plan to re-incorporate beans, grains and dairy after the challenge, just in smaller amounts.  I’m also not throwing away my soy sauce, ketchup or mayo–it’s just not practical for me (at least not right now) to attempt to make everything from scratch.  Neither Andrew nor I have a gluten intolerance, which is the main ingredient you’re supposed to stay away from.  Is it possible to whip up a simple salad dressing each night with some oil and vinegar?  Sure, but you aren’t taking my Wegmans Yogurt Ranch away from me.  Going forward, I may try to make different choices in the items I buy as I replace things in our fridge and pantry, such as coconut aminos instead of soy sauce.  But maybe not.

We’re basically having some sort of meat at just about every meal, along with eggs or produce.  I’ve been using Practical Paleo for almost all my recipes at this point, and I’m loving it.  A typical day would be eggs and bacon for breakfast, canned salmon on salad with fruit for lunch, and flank steak with peppers and onions and maybe a starchy veggie like cauliflower for dinner.  I’m loving ‘cauli-rice’!

Unfortunately, eating away from home is another matter.  Sometimes, it’s a matter of circumstance.  If I’m at someone’s house and there aren’t any Paleo options, or very few, I’m not going to be rude or go hungry.  Again, I don’t have a gluten allergy, nor am I lactose intolerant.  I CAN eat just about anything, and I’m not such a die-hard Paleo follower that I’m going to refuse beef and barley soup.  Other times, my sweet tooth gets the best of me.  For the challenge, I probably haven’t been as dedicated as I thought I’d be, but I think we’re fulfilling it about 80% of the time.  It’s already gotten Andrew and me thinking in a new way, so I’d say it’s working!

How I feel, weight loss, energy, working out, etc…

I feel amazing!  The higher protein and fat content of my meals keeps me full (but not heavy-feeling) without having to snack.  In just three or four days I felt a change in the shape of my body, and after getting on the scale, I saw a FIVE POUND weight loss!  Obviously not all of that is body fat, but it’s a step in the right direction.  I’ve noticed I have more energy in my high intensity kickbox classes; I’m kicking higher and punching harder.  I’m sweating more–or at least I think so–which could be indicative of greater water loss.  Or I just sweat a lot.

About a year ago, I tried to go wheat-free for a couple weeks as an experiment.  I felt fatigued and didn’t lost a single pound.  This is totally different, which is why it’s embraced as such a ‘lifestyle.’ I haven’t read The Primal Blueprint yet, but I’d like to.  It seems to really make a lot of sense–get sleep, get exercise, eat real food, and manage stress. What more could we want?

I’m sure I’ve left some things out, and feel free to ask questions! Check out the links and do your own research; I’m still learning, too!

Well, things were great until Andrew *begged* me to go to Yotality. (OK, ‘begged’ might be a bit strong, but for the record, I said no. And then relented.)

But let’s not let that misstep ruin the whole day.

Breakfast: Pesto eggs and bacon and sauerkraut.

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Lunch: Salmon cakes (OMG SO GOOD!) and salad with half a small apple. I served it with a selection of completely non-Paleo condiments, none of which I used.

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Mid-afternoon: The two interviews for the newspaper I scheduled turned out to take FOUR HOURS, so I was glad I grabbed a latte in between. On the way home (finally) at 6 p.m. I scarfed a Larabar in the car.

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Dinner: I quickly pulled together the dinner I planned, despite not having the time I thought I’d have. Spaghetti squash bolognese, which Andrew just about died over.

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As I was cleaning up the dishes, I was ready to go brush my teeth and end it for the night. And then Andrew called and said he wanted to take me to Yotality. I finally relented, thinking to myself that I’d get the tart flavor of yogurt (with probiotics–totally Paleo!) with some fruit.

I should have known better.

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It was totally not Paleo, but it was delicious.

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