Paleo Life

It’s been a busy few weeks around here. The success of the paleo cupcakes for my husband’s birthday has sparked a renewed interest in paleo baking in the both of us. We loved making bread before this diet change and we’re excited to try some new techniques. 
This last week, we tried a paleo sandwich bread made using almond flour. The one thing I noticed right off was that since this bread has no gluten or more importantly, yeast in it, it comes together so much faster than standard sandwich bread. So, that’s a win! There’s no need for rise time, punching or kneading the dough; you basically mix it, pour it in the pan and bake! The downside to no yeast however, is that the finished product doesn’t rise very much. Vinegar and baking soda give it a slight boost, but for the most part, it comes out of the oven at the same height it went in. Drat. I was hoping for a nice, tall loaf of sandwich bread. What I got was a mini loaf, albeit a very tasty one. 


The flavor of the bread is awesome. It’s dense and slightly nutty, not too overpowering and would be perfect for sandwiches or toast, it just lacks height. I thought I could get a little more height out of it by separating the eggs and whipping the whites into medium peaks before folding them back in, but there was almost no difference in height between the two loaves. I did notice that the bread with the whipped egg whites came out a little less dense, which was nice, but not the result I was hoping for. Back to the drawing board on that one. 

I can confirm however, that as written, this bread makes amazing toast. I eat it with a little bit of butter (not paleo, I know, but it doesn’t bother me, so I’m going to keep eating it). My husband loves it with his morning eggs, so win-win!

On the upside, I’ve got (almost) paleo chocolate chip cookies AND fudgy brownies. So, so good. 

Both are made with almond flour and organic chocolate chips. The way I made them isn’t exactly paleo compliant because the chocolate chips do contain processed white sugar, but for now, that’s going to have to do. Once I run out of chocolate chips, I’ll look into making them 100% paleo.

For the cookies, I follow the recipe exactly. I did experiment by adding one cup of dried cranberries and one teaspoon of cinnamon in order to make something close to my oatmeal craisin cookies, EPIC! I’ll have to take a picture next time, I was too hungry to wait this last batch. 


For the brownies, I tried them exactly as written the first time around, but they were too cakey for my liking. I prefer my brownies to be super fudgy and moist. I thought 3 eggs seemed like too many the first time I made them, so on my second try, I cut it down to 2 eggs and that was perfect!


We’re still on the hunt for a more sandwich friendly bread; I just got a tip about cassava flour, which is already on its way to me, so hopefully next time, I’ll be able to report a success!

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Whole 30, The End!

Sorry I didn’t post on the last week of my Whole 30, I had a terrible cold and just didn’t feel up to it. I ate mostly soup and bone broth that week, so you didn’t miss much. 

We made it! We’re actually almost a week past the end of our Whole 30, and it feels amazing!!! I lost just over 6 pounds in 30 days and I can’t even describe how awesome I feel. My skin is clear, my digestive issues have sorted themselves out and I’m even sleeping better at night! 

So, now what? Do I just go straight back to eating how I was before? What’s my plan for the future? Well, the husband and I have decided to make a major dietary change and go paleo permanently. Whoa. Wait. What on Earth does that even mean?The idea is simple, paleo refers to our caveman ancestors and the diet essentially consists of things that could be hunted or gathered, so lots of lean meats, fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds. Most importantly, the focus of paleo is cutting out processed foods and grains altogether. The paleo diet is very similar to Whole 30, but it is less restrictive on some things, like sugar. The Whole 30 does not allow any added sugars at all, except fruit juice. Paleo allows natural sugars such maple syrup and honey, which means we can have some sweets, (yay!). 

We haven’t decided yet how closely we want to stick to paleo guidelines. Right now, we’re considering a slightly modified version and allowing ourselves some dairy, because neither of us have any issues digesting it. We do plan to allow for cheat meals every now and then. Notice I didn’t say cheat “days”. I’ve always found the cheat day mindset to be particularly dangerous to any diet plan. I tend to go overboard on everything when it’s a whole cheat day. A cheat “meal” mindset allows us to have one non-compliant meal and then go right back to doing what we’re supposed to do as opposed to saying “well, I had a non compliant breakfast, may as well keep eating junk!”. 

Take this weekend, for instance, we went out to dinner for my husband’s birthday on Saturday. That was our cheat meal. The whole rest of the day, we stayed on plan. Before, I would have said “screw it, let’s ruin the whole day!”, and I’d have paid dearly for it the next. This way, we had some fun and didn’t feel guilty about it or make ourselves ill. Win! 

Speaking of birthdays, you may be wondering what kind of birthday doesn’t have a cake… not this one! I got a fabulous cookbook and made paleo compliant chocolate cupcakes with an equally compliant French buttercream. No one who tried them even realized they weren’t normal cupcakes until I told them, I’d say that’s a damn fine recipe. 


Ok, so you had a birthday cake. What about the Super Bowl?!? Don’t worry, I had that covered too! We made paleo friendly wings from NomNomPaleo and crispy smashed potatoes

I even got to have left over wings for dinner tonight with some roasted cauliflower and steamed green beans! Note: green beans are a controversial item on paleo; they’re legumes which technically aren’t allowed, but I say if it’s good enough for Whole 30, they’re good enough for paleo, since they’re mostly pod.


I think that’s just about it for now, more recipes and meal plans to come!

 

Whole 30, Day 7

One week down, 3 more to go! Ugh, I miss cheese! And chocolate, but mostly cheese. That’s really about it though, yay!! I don’t miss the sugar in my morning coffee and while my evening cup of tea isn’t quite as pleasurable as it was before, I’m learning to enjoy it. 


Overall, I’m feeling really good. Pain is still currently an issue, but the cold and I are old enemies, nothing new there. Winter is always bad for me as far as pain goes. The Reynaud’s really starts acting up, adding an extra layer of pain to my already aching hands and feet and the fibro itself always seems to get more active in the cold. The snow storm I mentioned in my last post has finally cleared up, so that helped a little. We’ll be back up in the 60s by the end of the week, so I’m hoping the rest of my pain will ease up by then. 

In the meantime, I can enjoy the extra energy and clear headedness I’m experiencing from clean eating. So, what have I been eating that’s allowing me to feel so good? Here are a few of the things I’ve been eating during week one of my whole 30: 

For breakfast, I’ve been enjoying fried eggs with, (un cured, no sugar added), bacon and a hash made of baby potatoes and fresh veggies such as kale, cabbage, asparagus and Brussels sprouts. 

Earlier this week, I used my instant pot, (AKA the most amazing contraption EVER!), to make a huge batch of kale and potato soup, which I’ve been eating for lunch. Note: to make this recipe Whole 30 compliant, I omitted the beans. I also added some ground turkey “sausage” and used no sugar added chicken broth, so my version is definitely not vegan.


I’m not supposed to be counting calories while on the Whole 30, but I have to point out that this whole bowl of soup comes in at under 300 calories and is super filling! 

One of the more difficult things about the Whole 30, for me, is that you’re not supposed to snack between meals. I’m terrible about eating 3 meals a day, I prefer 5 small meals, so this is a huge adjustment for me. This week I ate a larger breakfast and an earlier lunch to cut out my mid morning snack, but I couldn’t quite make it to dinner, so I’ve allowed myself a compliant afternoon snack of either fruit or this awesome roasted cauliflower “hummus“. I think it sort of looks like cat food with green bits in it, but it tastes awesome. 


Dinner this week was Kalua Pig (another instant pot success!!) with coleslaw, (epic use of the home made mayo), and fresh green beans. Note: while most legumes are banned on the Whole k30, green beans are an exception since they’re mostly pod.


For those of you wondering, yes, we did eat the same thing for dinner every week night this week. I made a huge batch of everything and portioned it out into lovely little boxes to make life easier. I don’t know about you, but I rarely have the energy to worry about cooking every single night, so this process helps A LOT. It also helps cut down dishes, so major bonus. 

On the weekends, I do try to make dinner both nights, as a kind of reward for finishing up all of the prepped meals. Last night, we tried a paleo beef stew with roasted beets, carrots, parsnips and Brussels sprouts and some mashed potatoes. 

Tonight’s dinner is going to be carne asada with pan seared asparagus, but I’ll have to share that in my next post since I haven’t made it yet. 

Happy Sunday!

Where’d my spoons go?

I am so exhausted lately that I feel like I can barely function. I can’t explain why I’m so tired; I’m sleeping better than ever, but my batteries are just not re-charging. I’ve always had an issue with energy levels and poor sleep; I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome around the same time they diagnosed the Fibromyalgia. Most of the time I can manage, but then I get stuck in these cycles of exhaustion and I start to wonder why I even bother fighting it. All I want to do anymore is sleep. I can get 8, 9, even 10 solid hours of sleep and I still wake up feeling like I’ve been up for 48 hours straight. Before I got off the medications, the answer was to simply throw more pills at the problem until something worked. Now that I’m off of them, I don’t have any choice but to push through it. 

It’s not depression. Aside from being tired, (and frustrated from being constantly fatigued), I’m happier than I have ever been; no dark thoughts, no mood swings, no appetite changes… It’s also not a Fibromyalgia flare up. I’m not pain free, but the pain is intermittent and mostly manageable. Somehow, I’m still managing to go to the gym and workout, but anything outside of my normal routine is just not happening right now. Every day, I am counting and recounting my spoons like a miser because I just can’t be sure I’ll be able to do the things I need to do. I am not normally the kind of person who plans their days, but lately I don’t have a choice. As it is, I’m having more trouble focusing on tasks, I’m constantly forgetting things and I can’t sit still for very long without nodding off, which is not only immensely annoying, but makes things like driving very difficult. I find myself getting grumpy for no good reason and I hate it. 

This particular cycle of exhaustion has been going on for at least 2-3 weeks now and there’s no end in sight. It’s wearing me down, it may not feel like this is a depressive episode now, but I worry that I’m heading that way. Getting out of bed in the morning is a chore. Going to the gym is getting harder and harder. The important thing is, I am still going. I’m still working through the Couch to 5k program and I’ve started lifting weights. It takes a dose of pre workout and usually a cup of coffee, but in the end, it’s worth it. I know that if I stop now, it will be even harder to start again. I’m hoping that the exercise will help me get break the cycle, so far, it doesn’t seem to be working, but in the end it’s worth it. If nothing else, I always feel better after a workout. 

Emotions are painful

One of the things I struggle with a lot is managing negative emotions. Since fibro came along, and for a while before it was diagnosed I’ve been very quick to tears or frustration. It can be anything; an overly busy day, bad news, tiredness and pain. Even little things are enough to knock me sideways. […]

https://fibrofoggyness.wordpress.com/2015/07/23/emotions-are-painful/

Allow me to (re)introduce myself

It has been two years since I first decided to turn my life around and start writing about my journey. Looking back now, I can honestly, (and proudly), say that I am not the same person that I was two years ago. Since fighting fibromyalgia is an ongoing battle and I intend to keep chronicling my fight, I thought it would be appropriate to reintroduce myself to those of you who have wandered into my little corner of the web. 

My name is Christina and the most important thing you should know about me is that I am happy. I don’t just mean with my life or the people in it, I am happy with myself. For the last two years, I have been actively creating my own happiness, by seeking out the things that make me feel good and eliminating those that don’t. For me, happiness isn’t in my bank account or my jeans size, it’s in what I do each day. 
I am a runner. I am neither the fastest nor the slowest and I don’t run for miles at a time, but I run by choice. More importantly, I love it. Running has taught me how to listen to my body, I know when to slow down and I know when I can speed up. I have learned that having a bad run every now and then is a good thing; it allows me to truly appreciate the great runs. When things get stressful, I lace up my sneakers and I just go. Instead of punishing myself by wallowing in stress, I punish the pavement beneath my feet and I am free, even if it’s only for a few minutes. 
I am an artist, with a creative streak that refuses to be denied. I paint, draw, crochet and in case of emergency, (or boredom), sing weird little songs about my cats and house plants. 
I am also a teacher, although I don’t have a herd of students or a classroom to call my own. Instead, I have the privilege of working with two wonderful children for a few days a week in their home. I suppose that some might call me a “babysitter” or a “nanny”, but when was the last time you met a babysitter that enjoyed finger-painting or understood what a “teachable moment” was? Several year ago, I had given up on being able to ever put my passion and experience to good use, but I discovered my own path that allows me to continue teaching and interacting with children without putting my sanity at risk. 
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that my life is all puppy dogs and cupcakes, (actually, there aren’t nearly enough cupcakes, for my tastes). I still have bad, (and really bad), days and I still get grumpy. I am still completely capable of being a hot tempered bitch, the difference is that I have learned how to manage it a bit better. Exercise gives me a proper outlet for both the pain and the rage. It also helps me fight the crippling depression that often follows a flare up and it allows me to clear my head, which is very useful for stressful situations. 
On the bad days, I have to fight against myself to keep moving, but if I have learned anything over the last few years, it’s that the clouds always pass. 

Acupuncture and shamrocks

Hooray for warmer weather! As much as I love snow, I’m really glad that it’s gone. It’s nice to be able to get out for a walk without having to put on 27 layers of clothing. Winter is hard for me because the cold hurts. I find it very difficult to stay active when it’s cold and dreary, which means it’s considerably harder for me to find relief from the pain caused by the cold. Staying active is the only sure fire method that works for me, but I still continue to look for other alternatives. If you’ve read my other posts, you’ll know that I’ve tried a wide variety of approaches to find pain relief and have had little success with most of them. Up until this point, the only thing I haven’t tried was acupuncture; however, I have finally decided to bite the bullet and give it a try. 

Honestly, to say that I am skeptical about this treatment is an understatement. It was all I could do to not roll my eyes when the acupuncturist I’m seeing gave me her spiel about how much better I would feel. The important thing is, I am willing to try. So far, I’ve had two sessions and I can’t say that I’ve noticed any change in my pain. What I can tell you is that after each session, I feel energized. Not just immediately after, either. After my first treatment, I noticed an increase in my energy for several days. I had my second treatment yesterday afternoon and I am definitely still feeling it. It’s not pain relief, but there’s definitely something happening, so I’m willing to keep at it. If I’m really lucky, this energy boost will last until Saturday and get me through the Shamrock 8k. Fingers crossed! 
Speaking of the Shamrock, I’ve got to say that I’m a little nervous about it. Like I said earlier, winter is a tough season for me, and I didn’t get to spend the time preparing for this race like I had planned. I had the same problem last year, so maybe this just isn’t the best race race for me. I’m still shooting to complete the 4.9 mile course in an hour and 10 minutes, which is the same goal I set for myself last year. My final time last year was 01:07:49, I’m honestly not sure I can beat or even repeat that, but I am darn sure going to give it my best shot! After my human pin cushion session yesterday, I went for a trial “run”, (which wasn’t a run at all, just a fast walk), and I managed to make it in just under 01:12. Not bad, considering that I didn’t push myself to the max; if the race was happening at 3pm, I’d be set. Unfortunately, it starts at about 8am… Let’s just say that I am not a morning person. 
Something else interesting happened while I was out on my walk yesterday. I found this: 

A “lucky” four leaf clover and on St. Patrick’s day, no less! Perhaps if I carry it with me on Saturday, it’ll bring me some luck? 

That’s all I’ve got for now, but I’ll be sure to check in after the race! 

Back in the saddle again!!

First off, many thanks to Aerosmith for providing my latest theme song!

In case the title of this post didn’t give it away, I am back up and running again. Literally. The last few months of 2014 were hectic, to say the least, and I fell off of my routine pretty hard. (I am rather miffed about admitting this next bit, but accountability is important, so here goes). Not only did I fail to lose the 8 pounds I gained from Christmas 2013, I managed to put on another 10 or so on top of that. See? I wasn’t kidding about having fallen off of my wagon.

Those of you who read some of my previous posts have probably seen me say something like this before. I wish I could say that this is the last time I’ll say it, but that’s really unlikely. Living with fibromyalgia involves a lot of stopping and starting. You get into a solid groove and then, WHAM!! the fibro steps in and knocks you for a loop. You can try to fight it, I know I’ve tried, but somehow I always find myself off track. Rather than sitting here feeling sorry for myself, I have come to accept that this is just part of my life. I’m like the itsy bitsy spider, (or that old Chumbawumba song); I climb up, I get knocked down, then I get up again.

So, now it’s time to get up and get back in the game. I’m back to counting calories, (ugh), and I’m once again walking almost religiously. I’ve decided to set my daily step goal to 11k, which, if I’m honest is something of a challenge for me, but with the help of my trusty fitbit, I’m getting it done. In addition to these tried and true methods, I’ve started working on creating meal plans for each week. While I find it to be somewhat tedious to actually write them up, I do like the structure the plans provide. No more standing in the kitchen staring into the fridge trying to figure out what to eat, I just follow the plan!

The best part is, this time around, I get to use the buddy system. My boyfriend, Aaron, is totally on board with the whole thing. With his help, I’m dragging my sorry butt out of bed and going for walks in the morning and soon, we’re going to add some strength training to the mix. Don’t get me wrong, he has been there for me every step of the way on this journey of mine, but mostly as a cheerleader, now he’s a full fledged participant and it’s awesome!

I’m thrilled to say that he will be joining me in running the Shamrock 8k this year! Since we don’t have a lot of time to train before the race, we’ve set our goal time at 70 minutes, which is the same goal I had for myself last year. Our plan is to use this race as a kind of baseline and then keep training for the Wicked 10k in October. If nothing else, it should make for a fun and interesting year!

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The (Lion) King & I

“Looks like the winds are changing.”

“Ahh.. Change is good.”

“Yeah, but it isn’t easy. I know what I have to do, but…”
— The Lion King

Once upon a time, if I wasn’t feeling well, I curled up on the couch and watched The Lion King. That was it. I didn’t cook, I didn’t tidy up around the house; to be honest, I barely moved from my spot, unless I had to. While The Lion King is still my favorite comfort movie, the winds have changed, and so have my rituals.

Recently, I was discussing fitness and overall health with an old friend of mine; we were busy talking about what keeps us motivated to stay active, and I couldn’t stop myself from absolutely gushing about my Fitbit. It was during that conversation that I realized just how much this tiny little device has influenced my everyday life. For the last year or so, I have worn it every single day. From the moment I get out of bed in the morning, until the moment I lay down at night, my Fitbit is, (literally), attached to my hip.

Some of you may be wondering at this point, what I’m even talking about, so before I go any further, let me explain what a Fitbit is. Basically, it’s a fancy pedometer: it counts my steps. Yes, you can go to the store and buy a basic pedometer for about $10. I tried that myself, but I wasn’t impressed; the cheaper devices are not very accurate and don’t provide enough information. What is it that makes the Fitbit so amazing? For starters, it syncs to my phone and puts all of the data it collects into an easy to read chart. At a glance, I can see precisely how active I’ve been. That little bit of information has changed my life.

Health experts recommend that adults get in 8,000 to 10,000 steps per day. When I first started using the Fitbit, I could easily go an entire day without reaching 1000 steps.

Before the Fitbit, I knew I wasn’t as active as I needed to be. I knew I was lazy and that the only way to describe my lifestyle was “sedentary”. The Fitbit took that information and gave me hard, visual evidence. What I saw shocked me. Like I said, I knew I was lazy, what I didn’t know was just how lazy I had become.

Adding the Fitbit to my routine was simple, all I had to do was wear it. It counts my steps, including flights of stairs and translates that into miles and calories burned. Once you sync the device to the website or your phone, it puts all of that info into a lovely little chart that shows you everything you need to know. It will also sync up with other apps, such as My Fitness Pal, so you can see your calorie intake and burn all on one page.

There is one other feature that I find particularly effective, even though I am slightly embarrassed to admit it: green smilies. When you hit your goals for the day, you get little green smiley faces next to the ones you reached. It’s a lot like getting that gold star at the end of the school day, and I often find myself doing laps around the house or even the grocery store just to make sure I get my smiley for the day.

I realize that this post probably sounds an awful lot like a product plug, but it’s not. This post is about change and just one of the ways I motivate myself to keep pushing. Change isn’t easy, (especially when you feel like the whole world is against you), but it can be done and now, I’ve got proof! I can’t say that I’ve spent the last right years fighting; in truth, the majority of my fight has only been in the last year and a half, but I wanted to show you where I started.

This was me in 2006.

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Here I am in 2011.

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And finally, this is me now.

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Keep fighting!

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