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Oct 7 – 30 Days Primal

I’ve officially completed 30 days of living and eating primal! Over the last month, I’ve concentrated all my meals on high-quality, naturally raised meats when possible, organics veggies, saturated and monosaturated fats (lard, tallow, olive and coconut oil), as well as fruits, unsweetened chocolate and black coffee. No honey, no sugar, no grains, minimal starches, no BEER and only one accidental dairy-slip.

As well, I’ve made it a point to stand when sitting would’ve been easy, to ride to work when weather permitted, to sprint when out in my VFF’s and hike in the great outdoors when possible this month.

I’ve faced some mini-challenges along the way, when eating out or trying to find some paleo-fair while on my break. To remain true to the challenge, I stuck to seafood without the breading or steamed shell-fish. I’ve asked for burritos in a bowl with lettuce in place of the typical rice and beans. I’d go to Whole Foods on break and grab some roasted chicken legs and breasts. Or head off to Trader Joe’s for salted meat or canned fish. I’ve subbed in yams on evening when I felt my energy dip during the day, remembering tough rides home where it felt as if the wind were against me the whole way, when really my muscles just weren’t used to the drop in carbs.

Eventually, I stopped using the helpful FitDay online app, which helps to measure how much protein, fat and carbs I was consuming each day. While it really helped me to realize how much certain foods were impacting my carb-load (bananas and apples were surprisingly high), I’m not the measuring type, so having to fill in this sheet daily was becoming cumbersome and ultimately led me to undereat what I was sometimes craving to satisfy some number on primal webpages. I prefer to listen to my body from now on, judging how much of certain macro-nutrients my body’s had enough of and what it’s still lacking.

Some big challenges of note were when I found myself in situations which beg for junk food to enhance the atmosphere… Sunday Football Games with pizza, fried food, or even Chinese food (dunno why, but that always sounds like a good idea to me), or going to a New England fair and saying no to the mountains of fried dough, candy apples, burgers and hot dogs, cotton candy, ice cream, etc. I stuck to the roasted (smoked) turkey legs, some jerky and a few fresh apples. Not too shabby. When my mom came over for the week, we were able to work out a Primalized Menu for the two of us to follow, as well. She made Baked Fish with summer veggies, I made bacon and eggs or sausages with greens.

Recently, I’ve been dabbling in gourds, dry roasting some buttercup squash or sugar pumpkins, and have made some deep fried fries out of yams and beef tallow. The flavor (compared to veggie “oil”) was amazing. Same goes for unbreaded buffalo wings with paleo-friendly Frank’s Red Hot. My favorite new activity is rendering beef tallow or pig lard from animal fat, and jarring it for daily use. So simple, so tasty and so healthy. Even stashing away all my excess bacon fat for later use with vegetables or eggs.

All-in-all, besides the occasional (fleeting) cravings for a sandwich or a beer.. sometimes some ice cream or milk/yogurt, I’ve really enjoyed the freedom to eat traditional fats almost to excess, savory meats slow roasted in a simple marinade, eggs cooked (almost deep fried) in tallow or butter, while losing weight and feeling more energetic than ever.

To be honest though, the one hurdle I’m still facing and am working to adapt to, is regularity. It’s definately more inconsistent than before when whole grains and more fruit were thrown into the mix. Before giving up though and grabs a bowl of rice, I must admist that in the last few weeks, meat went up and veggies went down. In the weeks ahead, I’m going to make a much more conserted effort to step up the greens and other veggies before diving into meat-nirvana! Also, keep the sauerkraut and pickles acomin’…

The official challenge has come to an end, and I’m 14 lbs lighter than at the start (from 207 to 193lbs in 30 days), but the lifestyle goes on. Refining my knowledge and practices of healthy living is a life long pursuit and my passion. Some things may change, some ideas completely dropped, others adopted or fine-tuned, but I feel that I’m finally on the right track.

Keep a watchful eye on the horizon for… The Primal Pig!

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Oct 5 – The Homestretch?

The 30 Day Primal Challenge is winding down as to close, but in a way, it’s really just the beginning. In these last 29 days, I’ve made enormous strides in improving my overall health and in leaning down. I really don’t (personally) have much in the way of stats to prove that this is the most optimal lifestyle for all human beings, but I know what’s worked best for me to date. And I have tried quite a lote when it comes to diets/fads (no definate chronological order):

  • SAD (Standard American Diet – Burger King, Pizza, Hamburger Helper, Doritos & Soda, Taco Bell, Candy and Boxes of Cereal! (I love cheerios)
  • Diets pills (Xenodrin)
  • One week of hotdogs, canned beets, boiled eggs and tuna (weird one from my pops)
  • Frozen Lean Cuisine’s
  • Slim Fast Plan
  • Large Pasta Salads
  • Fat-free Twinkees and Diet Soda
  • Protein shakes
  • 6 small meals a day
  • Myoplex protein bars
  • Skinless chicken breast with steamed broccoli and brown rice
  • Warrior Diet (IF and whole foods)
  • And now Paleo/WD hybrid!

There are probably a few more I’ve forgotten between the years of 5 and 25, but the important thing to note is that I have evolved through many levels of nutritional experience and knowledge, slowly, but surely refining my approach to health and longevity. It seems as though I might just be a SLOW learner, but really I attribute my first quarter century to my love of all foods stretching across our wide spectrum. Probably more than most. That and I have a seemingly never-ending hunger for tasty food. If it tastes good, I’ll keep eating till it’s gone. But now I’m learning to listen more to my physical needs rather than wants as I eat.

Plus, the combonation of my Intermittent Fasting practices and eating strictly whole foods (such as naturally-raised meats, organic vegetables and fruits, as well as traditional fats and occasional dairy) permits me much more leeway with regards to how much I can (need to) eat in one sitting.

So while the Challenge end on Wednesday, I plan on making this true change in my life and look forward to continued benefits of living primally. As I lean down, I plan on adding dairy back into the mix along with occasional evening with grains and legumes. Partly because I really do enjoy, but also because I don’t suffer the same ailments other do when consuming lactose, certain bacterial strains, gluten, etc. While they may contributed under earlier circumstances to my body composition, I’ve always maintained that I have an Iron Stomach! And after a long day of fasting and working the body, it’s primed to handle most all whole foods I can throw into my tank.

But this phase is still a while out. Until I feel that I’ve reach the lean body I should have, these things will still be few and far between. In truth, my beloved BEER may make up the grand majority of these future indulgences…

Zicke, zacke, zicke, zacke, hoi, hoi, hoi,
Zicke, zacke, zicke, zacke, hoi, hoi, hoi,
Prosit
!

Oct 4 – Are you ready for some primal?

Monday Night Football and Wild, Uncontrolable Snacking is now a viable (and dare I say, healthy) option!

The New England Patriots took on the Dolphins in Miami in a divisional showdown last night. The Pats started off slow (and ultimately, didn’t earn me many fantasy points), but really kicked into gear in the second half with a great performance by their DEF and Special Teams. In a game where Tom Brady threw for only 1 TD and 150 yards, and Randy Moss and Brandon Marshall were non-factors, unsung heros and nobodies like Brandon Tate, Patrick Chung, Rob Ninkovich and Dan Woodhead came up big with FG/Punt Blocks, Kick Off TD’s, and INT TD’s. Well, not too relevant on a nutrition blog, but it ties into my company that evening…

A girlfriend blocking me out with her labtop and headphones.. and LOTS of deep fried Buffalo Wings and Sweet Potato Fries! That, plus a salmon salad and broccoli earlier on. So, great food, great game, great company, great hookah … GREAT NIGHT! And still paleo. Just drop plain, old wings into a hot pot of tallow or lard for 10 minutes or so  (same for the sweet potato fries), and some Frank’s Red Hot afterwards and enjoy!

It’s that easy to eat paleo while watching some Monday Night Football. Though, I could’ve used a beer   😉

Oct 3 – Un-Country Fried Steak

Besides working for a few hours yesterday and watching some football, yesterday was just a lazy Sunday. For dinner, however, I decided to try frying the steak I had defrosted the other day. It was grass-fed (100%) london broil which I pounded the crab out of with my fists and cast-iron pan until it was about 1/2″ thick. Then I seasoned it lightly with thyme, cayenne, paprika and S&P and let sit for 30 minutes or so in the open.

Meanwhile, I also had some sauteed kale greens with onions in lard. I need more greens in my diet, especially when eating a lot of meat. For my newly flattened steak, I heated up the tallow from two nights prior in a deep skillet to medium-high. Once it was nice and hot, I laid in the small cuts two at a time into the oil and let it fry for about 90 seconds on each side. They came out medium well and were plenty moist from the tallow bath. I’m going to try this again sometime soon but with an Almond Meal Crust.

Quite good, and from what I’ve read, Tallow and Lard can be deep fried 3-5 times before it’s useless, assuming you drain it through a cheese cloth after each time. Also I’ve heard that soaking a peeling white potato for 30 min or so can soak up any added flavorings or sauces you used. The color’s definately more of an amber now instead of the previous white-yellow hue it previously had.

Oct 2 – My Greatest Paleo Achievement!

I’ll be finishing up this 30 Primal Challenge on Wednesday this week, but my greatest overall accomplishment will NOT be finishing it. It was this past Saturday, when Stephanie and along with her colleagues went to the Big E, near Springfield! The ESE (Eastern States Expo) takes place from late Summer until early Autumn, and is basically a Big Fair with fried food, crafts, agro-goods (candy apples, cheese tastings, maple samples, ice cream, etc), rides, games and the most ridiculous people from outside the greater Boston area. Enormous people of questionable fashion sense who’ve come to feed at the deep-fried trough that is their Mecca. It’s easy to see how America’s gotten so big over the last 100 years. Too much of this!

Well, I’m proud to say that I made it through 100% completely Primal. I manuevered my way thorugh the mazes of fried cheese curds, caramel apples (why destroy them so), fried dough balls, deep fried OREO’s, Donut Burgers and MUCH much more. I ate 4-5 small apples from this delicious little farm stand in their Farm-O-Rama, some jerky samples, Thai Garlic Chicken on a Stick, and a HUGE Hickory Smoked Turkey Leg!

Done.

It was the first time in my entire life I went to a fair and didn’t get something with cheese, sugar or grains. And several times I almost gave in to their ice cream stands, craft brew stations from across New England, the donut burger with bacon and cheese.. Even BBQ Ribs seemed like a possibility with its no-bun, but still sugary sauce; I was actually in line to buy the half-rack, half chicken combo, but decided against it last minute. I’m really proud of this moment, and now feel that much stronger against future temptations. I’m not saying I’ll never eat those things again, but they will be rare occurences, and never when I’ve made commitment not to. Great day!

I’d like to thank not just the Big E for the opportunity, but also to the larger than life characters there who helped inspire me to perservere, lest I become a member of their herd again  🙂    

NOTE: I am not at all trying to offend those who do eat this food occasionally, because when done responsibly, there’s little ill-effect from these foods. My abstenance was purely for my personal goals; I love fried food as much as the next person. Eating this food is part of the whole FAIR experience. If everyone ONLY ate this food when the fair came to town, we wouldn’t be where we are right now.

Oct 1 – Paleo, Deep-Fried

Maybe 3-4 times in my life I have deep fried some food. When I was younger I even got a Fry Daddy for Christmas. But for me deep fried food was something to eat in restaurants when it didn’t matter what you threw down your gullet. And it’s never been synonomous to traditional, healthy cooking. It’s FUN FOOD! Fatty food that tastes SOOOOO good! But now I’m proud to present, Guilt-Free Deep-Fried Food.. Paleo-style; meaning deep frying with animal fat (Tallow or Lard) and without breading (except nut flour).

On Friday night I took the rest of my tallow, melted it in a pot and fried my first-ever, home-made chicken wings! So easy and quick to do. And the oil was so flavorful by itself that I only dashed some S&P on to the wings before frying. After 7 minutes, the wings were crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. Then I poured a small bit of Franks Red Hot sauce on them for that Buffalo flavor. And what goes with fried chicken? Fries, of course. Yes, I made yam-fries which toook around 8 minutes per batch, and they were delicious. Seasoned afterwards with some ground salt and thyme only. Quite good, though are harder to crispen to same point I got the wings to.

All-in-all, great experiment. This will be great for Game Day on Sundays this season.

Sept 30 – Food vs. Fuel

Food can be so wonderful! It’s really the cornerstone of most every culture since the beginning of time! Everyone loves food for its taste and, therefore, ability to bring people together; its aroma, savory flavors, subtle spices. However, this is not always a given. Sometimes, food is just fuel. After all, its true purpose is to give us energy via essential vitamins, amino acids, minerals, fats, proteins.. the building blocks of life! We often look passed this necessary function that nutrition plays in just keeping us alive…

Well, this is where last night’s supper comes in. What better way to reflect on how important food is for fueling our bodies than to cook food, utter devoid of flavor. Not literally, but really the I ruined last nights opportunity to create a yummy, well-planned feast by poor planning and haste. Two center-cut pork chops, a bunch of fresh carrots and red cabbage should make a dynamo-meal 9x out of 10. We had #10 last night. The Pork was over cooked and under marinated (granted, I had no time to do so) with undercooked bits of garlic (ew). The Red Cabbage lacked spices and enough Apple Cider Vinegar, and was not cooked long enough (to relieve it of certain features cabbage is famous for). And the carrots were left in the oven long enough to char the tips, but still remain edible; again though.. little flavor. Worst of all, they were all finished at different times!

Last night’s food was purely functional fuel. I’m grateful that I can put food in my stomach each day, but there’s no excuse to make such bad food when the means to prepare such a wonderful meal for Steph and me was possible with better planning. Let the meat sit in something moist and flavorful for at least 20 minutes next time. Don’t crowd the carrots in the baking dish next time .. and cover it for the first half with foil to steam them. Measure the spices and vinegar for the kraut .. or at least taste it occasionally throughout the process to test it.

Oh well, body’s been nourished and I’m ready to learn from my mistakes. Tonight is, after all, another night!