How I did it.

I left off on my last post letting you all know that I had been eating Paleo for almost two weeks. Well, I have now passed that two week mark and cannot believe how much better I feel vs how I was feeling at the beginning of this little challenge of mine.

Making the Island Salad from Against All Grain!

Making the Island Salad from Against All Grain!

So the main comments and questions I’ve been receiving from readers, friends, coworkers and family all pretty much center on how I could make such a drastic cut in the items I’ve been eating.  That was so not the case! I have been gluten free for a few years now, so that takes care of cutting out wheat.  I recently found out I have a slight allergy to corn, so I’ve been phasing that out for a few months now.  The same goes for dairy, as I wasn’t actively trying to completely cut it out of my diet, but more so I’ve been reducing the amount I’ve been eating because it doesn’t make my stomach feel the best (and lets be real, cheese isn’t really something you should be eating large amounts of while trying to drop some libbies.) So that leaves me with legumes and refined sugar to reduce/remove from my diet in this Paleo endeavor.  Legumes weren’t very difficult because I wasn’t eating them very often as is.  Sugar though, Woah.  Guys, I had the most intense candy cravings I have ever experienced in those first few days.  It was a huge reality check on how much sugar I was actually consuming.  And now that I’m reading food labels even more religiously, sugar is is EVERYTHING.  Ugh.  SO I’ve been doing without a lot of things like store bought sauces and have been making my own instead.

There is a lot of debate and misconceptions surrounding this diet as a whole.  I read the book “It Starts With Food” (which is the book that outlines the Whole30 challenge, which is what I’ve roughly based my 30 days off of.  The book really gets into the scientific nitty gritty of the Paleo diet and while I think some of it is a little extreme, most of it was a good takeaway for me.  There are numerous factors that have led me to believe that the Paleo diet would help me feel happier and healthier.  I have Hashimotos thyroiditis, which is an autoimmune disorder that effects ones thyroid and disrupts metabolism and weight regulation (these are just a few of the issues that arise with the condition.)  While reading a book on Hashimotos, I came to learn that the disorder cannot be wholly managed with synthroid pills every morning, but is better managed with a combination of medication and diet changes.  The diet changes they recommend?  No grains, no dairy, no corn, no sugar. Hmm, sounds pretty Paleo to me.  Another factor that led me to this diet was a recommendation by a holistic doctor (the same one who initially diagnosed my allergies years ago) to follow something called the blood type diet.  The blood type diet (I am an O) is a list of foods that are recommended for individuals with different blood types.  I hesitate to call it a diet due to the fact that it is not calorie driven, there are no meal plans, and no gimmicks.  This “lifestyle” was designed for each different blood type and the foods that would help them perform optimally. Type O diet is limited on grains, limited on dairy, no soy, and limited sweets.  Hmmm, once again, sounds pretty Paleo.

So the first of the year rolled around a few weeks ago and I was feeling the holiday food hangover in full force.  Everything seemed to come together in my head for the first time and I just kept thinking – Allie, you know what you have to do to be happy and healthy, so do it.  So I set a date, enlisted a friend (kateswholeplate) and here I am, two weeks later, feeling great and not really missing any of the foods I ‘gave up’ on my journey to health.

It's all about preparation and planning.

It’s all about preparation and planning.

So onto my eats! I’ve been happily noshing on lean proteins such as chicken, fish (so much fish!), flank steak and eggs.  I’ve been having eggs most mornings for breakfast, usually in the form of a scramble (ain’t nobody got time to flip an omlette) and I mix the eggs with spinach and veggies, and sometimes meat if its available.  Bacon FTW.  I always try to incorporate healthy fats in there like coconut oil or milk, tons of avocados, and nut butters (almond and sunflower seed are my favorite).  Make sure you check labels on all of these things!  Almond butter could have added oils or sugar, which is why it is so important to check!  Also, checking to see if non dairy milks have added carageenan has been important to me, since I have done some research and it has been linked to polyps and colon cancer more than once.  In addition to the protein and fat, I’ve been eating squash and tubers (sweet potatoes, yams, parsnips, etc) and a ton of veggies!  My boyfriend and I took a run to Costco one Sunday (note to self never go on weekends) and bought the largest bag of spinach I have ever seen.  So my goal is to finish that before it goes bad. I’ve been making some smoothies for breakfast on days I have to work.  I try to limit my fruits to one per day due to the high fructose content, but I’m not super strict about that.

A sampling of a late lunch I had one day.  Sunbutter, Apple, Clementine and heirloom grape tomatoes.

A sampling of a late lunch I had one day. Sunbutter, Apple, Clementine and heirloom grape tomatoes.

Overall, I am beyond thrilled that I have been able to get past the fear of what I was ‘giving up’ and can now see the beauty in what I’ve gained.  I am on my journey to restoring my health and I am so excited for the path ahead!  Also, this was not a decision I made on a whim or took lightly.  I attempted a challenge similar to this a few months back and was not successful.  This time around, I was mentally and emotionally prepared, I had done preparation and planning for what was needed and I had a support system that was on board with me.  I am not a doctor and as such, I am just sharing what is working for me nutrition wise.  Consult your doctor if you need further guidance.

If you haven’t seen whatshouldwecallpaleolife.tumblr.com go there now.  It’s hilarious (at least to me) HA!

PS. I’m sorry if I ever burped in your presence.  Now you know, I couldn’t help it!  But it was pretty funny for a while.

On Going Paleo

A few months back I vowed to go to crossfit and train for a half marathon to whip myself into shape.  Well, here I am, almost done with January, still barely able to run a mile.  I asked myself so many times, why isn’t this working and what am I doing wrong, but I kept coming back to one thing: nutrition.  Random, right?  Well, as you may know from my about me or by knowing me personally, I have some dietary restrictions that I need to adhere to in order to feel healthy and happy.

For the longest time I though I had my gluten allergy under control and figured my stomach was just sensitive to other foods I was eating (like dairy which I know makes me ill and small amounts of soy) but I figured if I got those under control as well, I would be symptom free and healthy. Notsomuch. I have still been getting sick, and by this I mean extreme, painful bloating, and all the wonderful not-to-be-mentioned accompanying symptoms from bloating.  All I could think was, “SERIOUSLY?!”  What now? It was so beyond frustrating and for a while I thought I would always be the burping, bloated person I had become. But then I thought maybe there was a less dramatic (who, me, dramatic?!) way of dealing with these issues.

I’m going paleo.  I’m removing all of the things I have been noticing that have made me sick.

But that’s not all, I have already been paleo for 10 days.  I needed to make sure my will power was there before sharing this big news!

OK, no I will not be 100% strict paleo for the rest of my life.  Yes, I will have cheese and yogurt again in my life.  Yes I will also probably reintroduce some grains that have never made me feel ill.  But I will never rely on these foods as I was.  These will be few and far between.  Cheese will be a luxury, as I feel it should be.  Grains such as quinoa and brown rice will make appearances every once in a while.  But that’s it.

10 days ago, I went to bed with a stomachache (a normal occurrence) and made up my mind that I was committed to making it through 30 days of paleo.  If, after that 30 days, I didn’t see an improvement or change, I was going to have to figure something else out (i.e. a serious talk with my doctor).  I am a third of the way into that commitment.  I feel great. My skin is starting to clear up after some pretty bad months, I find myself less fixated on food and what to eat, and in the first 7 days, I lost 3 pounds.  Who knows if the weight loss was a fluke or due to the fact that I’m eating less processed foods, but it is the first loss I have seen in almost a year (and yes, I’ve been trying). This is major.

I made only one New Years resolution and it was to cook every recipe in the Against All Grain cookbook.  It has been fun, challenging and DELICIOUS thus far!

Since this post is getting lengthy, I will continue in another post on Saturday to get down to the nitty gritty of what it takes to go paleo.  I’ll leave you all with some pictures of my eats lately!

Breakfast Hash

Lunch!

Breakfast Egg scramble

Coconut Crusted Mahi Mahi

Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict

Carne Asada Burrito Bowls

PS Now that my nutrition is focused and under control, I am working on the exercise portion! Crossfit has been awesome so far and running is just as much of a struggle as it has always been, but I’m hoping to change that!

Where have I Been?!

I have never been one of those people who tries to convince others of my ‘busy – ness’ all the time.  Mostly because I think it is used as a tool, mostly by women, to convince themselves that they are doing more than others and are somehow superior due to their level of chaos in their life. Somedays I try to justify things in my head because “I’m sooooo busy.”

I’m calling BULLSHIZ on myself.  Time for some real talk, yo.

While yes, I do have a lot going on, I am by no means pull-my-hair-out, insomnia-ridden or mentally-fried due to my schedule.  Do I think that you have to reach those extremes before you realize that it is time to slow down, absolutely not, but I’m just saying that for me, I am relatively low stress.

So what was the point of that rant?  Well guys, I haven’t really worked out in weeks.  Yes, some of it was due to the fact that I was going to the chiropractor up to three times per week for a very real, and very scary back issue. Now that my back is feeling better and I can actually bend, (do you guys know how hard it is to get dressed when you can’t bend?!) I am trying to recommit myself to exercise.

Next week I am starting on-ramp classes for Crossfit. BAH! What? Yes, I’m finally taking the plunge I have been talking about for almost a year.  A box opened in my city and I am jumping on that train. In addition, I have reached out to the author of a blog I follow and we are going to be virtual running buddies.  YAY accountability!

As some of you know, I was supposed to run the Twin Cities 10k a few weekends ago and I decided to not run it.  I seriously struggled with that decision but it was the right choice.  I was coming off my first few chiro sessions and was feeling as though it would be very detrimental to my improvement to participate.

Struuuuugle

Finished this 5k in 41:00. I’m ready to beat that time!

What have I been mentally working on to prepare myself for this new stage of workouts? Well for one, I’m so done comparing myself to others. I used to say, I wish I could run like my sister, or I could be like that if I tried.  Well, why don’t I try? Why don’t I work on my running? I’m scared out of my mind! What am I scared of? I have no clue, but I want to dive into that deep dark unknown, and am giving myself full permission to cry if I have to, just so long as I do not give up.  I’ll be damned if I let my mind stop me again before my body stops. There is nothing worse than being uncomfortable in your own skin.

So Crossfit AND running?! Who jumps into a workout regime like that after doing nothing for a few weeks.  ME.  And I am determined to follow through.  Following my first month of intro classes at Crossfit, I will go twice a week. It ain’t cheap to join crossfit and I’m not willing to just give that moolah away by not going.  On the running side, I have decided to look for a 10 mile or half marathon (who am I?!) to run next spring.

Um, needless to say, training is beginning this weekend.  I am going to master a 5k first (in 8 weeks) then switch over to a half training plan.  So what’s this resurgence in working out about? Well, I have been STRUGGLING to lose weight. And now that I have my diet (mostly) figured out, it’s time to work on the second component.  Also, it helps to tell people and so I’m telling you guys.  My family and most my friends know, and I’m not one to sit here and act as though talking about weight loss should be stigmatized.  Chances are, if you look like you need to lose weight, your friends and family will be right on track with you and ready to jump in to help.

I remember when I sent out a desperate email about 2 years ago to all of my family, essentially begging them for help in regards to me cutting out gluten. I was still eating it every once in a while, and I needed them all to know I needed their help.  I expected support, but woah, not that kind of insane, unconditional love.

So while I haven’t started my training /workouts yet, I am writing to you guys asking for help! It’s already helpful to talk about it.  I’ll be on here (hopefully about once a week) to check in and give progress on the mental, physical and emotional.

Just because this post is lacking pictures, IT’S POMEGRANATE SEASON AGAIN!  Hallelujah! Rejoice!

Hello delicious!

Hello delicious!

 

 

 

Super Simple Coconut Shrimp

So I have a really easy and quick recipe for you guys today.  After posting a photo of the coconut shrimp I made for Troy and myself last week, I had quite a few requests for the recipe.  So here it is!

coconut shrimpCoconut Shrimp (Gluten Free)

Serves 2

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

1 lb Jumbo Shrimp, peeled and deveined

2 c. Puffed Brown Rice Cereal (or Rice Krispies)

1 1/2 c. Unsweetened, Shredded Coconut

2 Egg Whites

1/3 c. Coconut Oil

1. Using a sharp knife, butterfly shrimp and pat dry with a paper towel.

2. Use a rolling pin or food processor, crush the rice cereal until it resembles bread crumbs.

3. Combine cereal and coconut in a shallow bowl.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

4. With an electric hand mixer, blend the egg whites until they have soft peaks.  About 2 minutes.

5. Heat the oil in a cast iron pan or large saute pan.

6. Dip the shrimp, one by one, into the egg whites, followed by the coconut mixture.  Make sure to coat the shrimp well with the coconut.

7. Pan fry the shrimp until golden brown and flip to cook the opposite side about 3 minutes per side.

8. Drain cooked shrimp on paper towels to absorb excess oil.

ENJOY!

We had ours on a bed of spinach and a drizzle of a sweet chili sauce on top!

[Allie]

My “new” Skincare Routine

Ok, so I was honestly debating writing about this, but I have had quite a few questions about my skin lately, more specifically, why it looks clearer and more “dewy.”  HA!  I took this picture earlier today to show you what I look like on a normal day, seriously, this is my usual hair, favorite shirt, minimal makeup.

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With (minimal) makeup. Like some concealer and bronzer for this pasty face.

Thanks to the amazingness that is Pinterest (Love it!) I came across a method for cleansing your face naturally, inexpensively, and gently, about 3 months ago.  The Oil Cleansing Method has been around for a while, but is just now gaining steam again as more people look for homemade solutions to the processed, harsh, chemically ridden products commonly found in stores.  I read about the OCM on a few different blogs and websites before deciding I had nothing to lose and purchased the ingredients.

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Ignore the Peppermint Oil, that was used for something else..

So what is the OCM?  It is a blend of Castor oil, Olive oil (or oil of your choice, could be coconut or sunflower etc) and Tea Tree Oil (optional).  I found both the castor oil (external use) and tea tree oil at my local health food store in the beauty section.  As for the olive oil, I used the extra virgin olive oil that was in my kitchen!  The castor oil (8oz) was around five dollars, the tea tree oil (2oz, which is a sizeable amount) was about fifteen dollars and the olive oil was about fourteen dollars for 48oz.  So you might be wondering, that doesn’t seem inexpensive..what is she talking about?  Well, I mix my oils in a 4oz container, using 3 oz of olive oil and 1 oz of castor oil, with 10 to 15drops of tea tree oil.

3 oz Olive Oil = $0.88

1 oz Castor Oil = $0.63

10 to 15 drops Tea Tree Oil (about 1/4oz) = $1.88

Total = $3.39

This amount lasts me about 3 weeks to a month and is both a cleanser and moisturizer in one.  So, I hope that explains how it’s more inexpensive than store-bought products!  My old face wash was $7.99 for 4 oz, and lasted me about a month, and my moisturizer was $13.99 and lasted about 6 weeks.  Needless to say, the money saved is already worth it, not to mention, I now know exactly what I’m putting on my skin and am not obsessively reading labels trying to decipher if it has too many chemicals or not.

The greatest thing about this cleansing method is the process.  You use about a nickel sized amount, once a day (usually at night) and it’s like getting a mini facial every. day.  Check out the process here or at the link above. The second greatest result of this method is the effect it has had on my skin.  I have few break outs (even around “that time o’ the month”) and my complexion is more even.  My skin doesn’t have the dry, flaky spots it had before and my pores have even reduced in size!  I’m a huge fan.  I mixed up a little for my sister to give it a try, and she seems to like it so far (still adjusting oil ratios to suit her skin type), but her skin looks more even and definitely more glowy than it was!

Lately (aka summertime heat and humidity) my skin has been producing more oil/sweat and I have been a little too oily on occasion.  To combat this and to add a nice cooling sensation in these hot summer months, I made a toner to use after I cleanse my face.  On a cotton swab I put some Witch Hazel and add 2 drops of tea tree oil, and swipe all over my face.  The result is like a mini air conditioning for your face, and the witch hazel (a natural toner) and tea tree oil (an antibacterial and acne fighter) smell awesome together!

If you need further convincing (which you shouldn’t) I’ll even show you a rare, no make up, picture of myself.  And on that same note; I used to love makeup, spent a lot  of $$ on the “good stuff”, and thought I needed it every day, and now I barely use any. So I’m saving even more money by not buying as much makeup!

Photo on 2013-06-17 at 13.18 #2

Zero makeup. Well, there’s some residual mascara, but that’s it.

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading this lengthy post.  I took a slight hiatus to finish the semester of school and hit triathlon training hard (more about THAT in another post), but it’s good to be back!  I hope you try this method!

What’s your favorite homemade beauty secret?

Do you have a favorite face wash?

Have you ever dared to go without makeup?

Tell me in the comments!

-Allie

March Goals…and a Recipe!

So I am well aware that it is March 4th and should have posted my March goals a couple days ago, but such is life.  I have fine tuned these goals to be tough, but achievable, make some (or all) your goals as well and let me know how it goes!

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1. Log 900 Fitness Minutes

This one might be the toughest goal for me personally.  Luckily I made a plan of action.  900 fitness minutes means roughly 45 minutes of exercise five days a week.  Totally do-able, but I have a history of not going to the gym more than 3 times a week.  Why?  Because my gym was 14 miles away and a 20 minute drive.  That was stupid, to sign up for a gym, THAT far away, when I live in the thriving suburbs of Minneapolis!  So, I signed up for a new gym 2 miles from my house (no excuse) and that was about 30% less expensive.  Win – Win!  Added bonus?  My boyfriend is a member at the same gym, so the hope is that we will go together sometimes!

2. Food Prep on Sunday

This is something I have been aiming to do for years, but when Sunday came around it just wouldn’t happen.  I am ready to take the reins and determine my eating for the week on Sunday.  This also means I will be making a menu for the week, so I know what to prep and what to shop for!  I already accomplished this goal for this week, as I spent a couple hours in the kitchen yesterday pre-making some salads and prepping food for the rest of the week.  I made Chicken Salad (no pecans, substitute cashews, and add celery – my dads way!), Quinoa Salad with Apples, Walnuts and Smokey Cheddar, Overnight Oats (in jars!) with banana and peanut butter, and I prepped everything for Spicy Orange Chicken (with cauliflower “rice”) and Balsamic Chicken.

3. Get to Yoga At Least Once PerWeek

This is a no-brainer, but I have slacked on my practice lately!  The plan is to go Wednesdays when I get out of class.

4. Eat Completely Paleo Two Days Per Week

On a quest to truly clean up my eating, I have been exploring more Paleo recipes lately!  I haven’t made a single one that wasn’t delicious, so eating Paleo two times a week should be manageable. I know the hardest time of the day for me will be in the morning for breakfast, since I usually have something yogurt based, but I prepped hard boiled eggs on Sunday, so I’ll just grab two of those, and be good!

5. Track My Water Intake

I have been trying to be more conscientious lately about the amount of water I drink.  I feel a huge difference on the days I don’t hit my goal (80 oz) vs days I do hit that goal.  I feel sluggish and pretty crappy when I don’t get enough water in me. When I do drink enough water, I notice my eating is much healthier, and I take more modest portions.  Healthy habits breed healthy habits right?

6.  Lose 8 lbs

What do all these goals add up to in the end?  Hopefully with me losing 8 libbies!  This is roughly 4% of my body weight, and within safe limits to lose in the four and a half weeks of March.  I’m going to keep myself accountable on this by making sure I head to WeighWatchers for my weekly weigh in.

So those are my March Goals! Do you have any goals for March?

 

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Last week I wanted to make BBQ Chicken Pizza (per the request of Troy) and decided to try my hand at making BBQ sauce from scratch!  I waned something with no corn syrup or nasty preservatives.  I declared 2013 as my year to clean up my diet and cut the processed crap out.  So I started throwing some stuff in a bowl and the  end result was fantastic!  A slightly sweet, slightly spicy, smoky barbecue sauce, perfect for chicken or ribs, or anything else you can slather it on!  Best of all, most of the ingredients are common items that you probably have in your house already.

“Clean” Barbecue Sauce (Makes about 3 cups)

3 cloves roasted garlic

½ red onion

1 T extra virgin olive oil

1 cup ketchup (I used Simply Heinz – It has a clean ingredient list)

1 can tomato paste

¼ cup molasses

¼ cup maple syrup (make sure it ‘s pure maple)

¼ cup brown sugar

4 T cider vinegar

2 T dijon mustard

1 t liquid smoke

1 T chili powder *

1 T sundried chili powder *

½ tea chipotle chili powder *

¼ cup water

* I purchase all of our chili powders from El Potrero Trading Post and have it shipped.  Their chili powder is not only the freshest tasting and best quality I’ve had, but the prices are very reasonable. I’d suggest checking out their site!

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1. Saute the onion in the olive oil until it is softened in a medium sauce pan.  Add the garlic when the onion is almost done.  Set aside to cool slightly.

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2. In a mixing bowl combine the rest of the ingredients and whisk to combine thoroughly.

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3. Add the mixed ingredients to the sauce pan and cook on medium low until the sauce simmers.  Let simmer for 5 minutes and take off the heat.

4. Allow mixture to cool to room temperature and use a food processor to blend the sauce, making sure there are no chunks of onion or garlic left.

5.  Use immediately or store in the fridge in a glass container.  I like using recycled jars for things like this!

Enjoy!

 

 

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