So Easy a Caveman Can Do it? Well, Kinda.

Roughly six weeks ago I posted about how I was going to fully embrace the crossfit experience which included going Paleo(ish) – my version of Paleo eating.

To say I was nervous about how restrictive Paleo is is an understatement. Since I already eat clean, I’m used to quite a restrictive diet already but Paleo was taking away some of my beloved staples like grains, dairy and legumes.

paleo

Instead of freaking out and feeling like I couldn’t eat anything, I gave myself some wiggle room. I decided that it was ok to have one serving of dairy and/or grains a day with the intent of not eating any.  Remember, I was going Paleo{ish}. This wiggle room worked out great for me and I actually only ate a total of three servings of grains (no dairy) during the first two weeks and I was able to cut it out entirely.

the-paleo-diet11The first two weeks were definitely the most challenging.  So easy a caveman can do it? Ummmm, maybe.  But this modern, clean eating girl struggled.  I knew that I relied on grains, dairy and legumes heavily in my diet but I had no idea how much I relied on them.  During those first weeks I felt drained, like someone had stolen my batteries.  I was still doing short mid-week runs and Crossfit but the first time I went on a long run (10 miles) fueled the Paleo way, I tanked.  It was terrible and I felt super sick, light headed and my vision was a bit fuzzy; I ended up calling it quits after 8.75 miles for safety reasons.  As soon as I got back to my car and ate something I felt much better.  My system was lacking carbohydrates big time and just couldn’t sustain the energy my body needed for the run.

I did some research on how to properly fuel runs with Paleo and found lots of conflicting information. Joy. But there was at least one common recommendation: sweet potatoes. All my life, I have never liked sweet potatoes. I know *gasp*. But I knew if I really wanted to take this seriously, I would have to get used to them.  So I did some searching and found a recipe for sweet potato chips. {Enter my new found love for sweet potatoes.}

Once I discovered sweet potatoes, that kind of took care of my carb issue. It didn’t fix the feeling I had of being drained though.  I decided to track my calories one day using My Fitness Pal and I was shocked to see that I was 600 calories short for the day. Unfortunately, I had been unintentionally starving myself.  Even though I was eating a ton of food each day I realized what I had done was replace my higher calorie dairy, grains and legumes with lower calories vegetables and fruits. Whoops.

After doing some adjusting with my food, by week three and four I really felt like I hit my Paleo groove.  I started to see a few changes with my body; I noticed a bit more muscle tone and didn’t feel bloated like I often had.  I have always had some problematic acne on my back (bacne – ewwwww) and that cleared up as well.  Apparently I have a slight dairy or gluten allergy.  Also during weeks 3 & 4 I stopped missing my carbs and dairy which is something I never thought would happen.

So what did I eat? Whole foods.  LOTS of whole foods.  Eggs (9 dozen of them to be precise) were my go-to protein source. I had them for breakfast and snacks.

eggs egg 4 omelette scrambled eggs

Protein (esp. chicken) in just about every form you can imagine.

chicken

And an insane amount of fruits, vegetables and nuts.  The only pre-packaged food I ate was Larabars, canned nuts, some beef jerky and Vega’s Energizing Smoothie.

larabar

Vega

Oh, and I may have snuck a bite or two of some deliciously dark chocolate. Don’t judge…

chocolate

I discovered some pretty cool Paleo sites (PaleOMG and Nom Nom Paleo are fantastic for recipes).  I did some experimenting in the kitchen, found some new recipes I love and a few I hated. {side note: If you’re a blogger, PLEASE make sure your recipe is actually tasty like you say. It’s incredibly frustrating to waste good ingredients on a bad recipe.}

When I started Paleo eating, I had fully intended on returning to clean eating after the month ended.  However, it ended two weeks ago and I’m still going strong and don’t have any plans on going back to the grains and dairy.  I still have some tweaking that needs to be done (making sure I get enough calories & that I’m properly fueled for long runs), but I’m happy with this new Paleo(ish) lifestyle.

Question: Have you ever taken a challenge only to surprise yourself by continuing it once it’s over?

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Going Paleo(ish)

When in Rome, do as the Romans do….Right?  We’ve all heard that statement before but it’s one of those universally (ok, at least in America) recognized phrases that applies to just about anything.  Right now for me, my “Rome” is CrossFit and the Romans are….wait for it….CrossFitters. You totally didn’t see that coming, did you?

Janice

One handed rope climbs? I will not be doing like this Roman crossfitter anytime soon.
This is my instructor Janice. She’s a total beast – even with a broken hand/arm.

During this month, I really want to embrace the whole CrossFit experience, not just bits and pieces of it.  Afterall, how can I know if I really like or dislike something without having given it a fair shot.  A big part of the CrossFit lifestyle is the way that they eat. Paleolithic style or Paleo for short.  Now, I realize that not every CFer follows a Paleo diet, but it seems like most do. So when my CF instructor challenged us to reduce (not eliminate) our dairy and grain intake, I accepted. I dig challenges.

For those of you who might not be familiar with Paleo, the short and sweet definition is that  it’s basically caveman type eating.

the-paleo-diet11source

Think primal, hunter-gatherer type stuff.  Meat, vegetables, fruits, nuts and BACON.  Oh wait, bacon’s not a food group… Whatever, it should be.  The graphic below gives you a pretty good idea about Paleo.

paleo

We all know that I eat clean, so getting rid of the processed stuff isn’t a huge deal for me.  But what you don’t know is that a HUGE part of my clean diet consists of the first three bullets on the “don’t eat list.” I typically eat anywhere from 3-5 servings of dairy a day, 4-6 servings of grains (cereal, pasta, brown rice), and at least 1 serving of legumes a day. I don’t really eat a lot of meat….until now. *gulp*

So where the Paleo(ish) comes into play? A bit of background first for context.  In the past, I have had the tendency to go off the deep end with my eating habits, unfortunately, in an unhealthy way.  I’ve learned if I put food on the restricted list, it almost instantly becomes an enemy.  Something I can’t have or shouldn’t have because it will “hurt” me.  It can make me feel like I’m back into a corner. I get anxiety if I eat restricted food, or, even worse, to avoid anxiety in the past, I just wouldn’t eat. {side note: My not eating didn’t have anything to do with weight loss.  It was completely because I didn’t want to put “bad” food into me.}

That mindset is completely, totally, 100% unhealthy.  But I know this about me and that I have a tendency to think that way so in an effort to avoid potentially leading myself down that path, I am going Paleo(ish).  I am not outlawing dairy, grains and legumes.  Instead, what I’m committing to is allowing myself one serving of each per day.  I am going to try to not eat them at all, but if I do, I know that they aren’t “bad” and I haven’t done anything wrong by eating them. No guilt, no shame.  Just a happy and healthy Gina.

Life is all about finding the right balance that works for you.  I’m not convinced Paleo is the most healthy lifestyle but I’m going to give it a chance.  I really need to research it and I know there are a ton of great reads on the market right now like It Starts With Food.

ISWF-Cover-Header-Food4

I started my Paleo(ish) journey 1 1/2 weeks ago and so far I have had no problems.  At first I was a bit sad every time I opened my fridge and was greeted by my organic milk and plethora of Chobani flavors but after a week, I’ve really gotten the hang of it.  I think the transition was a bit easier for me since I eat clean.  I didn’t have to worry about sugar withdrawals or anything like that.

I’m excited to see how the rest of the month plays out.  The thing I’m looking forward to most is seeing how the increase in protein effects my muscles.  However, in my heart I know that once May hits, I’ll return to clean eating.  A different form of clean eating though, I don’t see myself reintroducing a ton of dairy and grains back into my diet.  Now beans, I’ll be bringing those back with a vengeance.  I love ’em! Beans, beans the magical fruit, the more you eat…. (HA, I know you just finished that sentence in your head.  You’re welcome.)

Question:  Have you ever gone Paleo? Did you stick with it or reintroduce some of the restricted foods back into your life?

March #GoalGetter2013 Checkin

goalgetter2013

Alright, I know that I’m a week late with my March goals check-in, but better late than never, right?  As a recap, here were my March goals:

Get better!! This one may seem like a silly goal but it’s super important right now.  I haven’t been this sick in years and it’s really messing with me mentally.  I feel like I’ve regressed, fitness wise, tremendously.

Spend more time in the kitchen. Yep, I putting this one back on my list; however, I’m going to be more specific this time.  I will make at least one meal the both of us can enjoy.  One of the reasons I find this such of a struggle is due to the fact that Jody aka the hubster refuses to eat clean.  After 1 1/2 years of clean eating, I still haven’t been able to get him on the bandwagon.

  • I would give this one a B-.  I did end up finding some things that we can both enjoy but still didn’t spend as much time as I could have in the kitchen.
481813_595241967170895_112862517_n

100% clean {and husband approved} Sausage Stuffed Baby Portobellos.

Enjoy my next half marathon.  At the end of the month I will be running the Viking Half Marathon and I just want to have fun.  I’m not worried about time goals or PRs.  Just whatever happens, happens.

Medal

Cross train, cross train, cross train! Now that I’m not training for a marathon (first time since last July) I can focus my attention on cross training without fear of injury.  I will be hitting the weight machines pretty hard, cycling my little legs and {of course} still getting in my running – just not 40 miles a week worth of running.

  • C.  Because it took so long to get over being sick, I really only had two full weeks in March to cross train.  I did make it to the gym several times during those two weeks.

Focus more on my spirituality.  I have dropped the ball big time with my devotions and Bible reading in the past few months.  Instead of getting up and getting into His word, I find myself jumping onto the computer to check the blog/social media/my favorite bloggers.  My priorities definitely need re-arranging.

  • D.  Once again, I let this goal slide by me.

Now for my April goals:

Prioritize my spirituality.  I’m making this my number #1 goal this month.

Don’t die in CrossFit.  Ha! I’m loving crossfit so far but I really need to make the most of it with learning proper technique.  Right now, running is on the back burner as I attempt to increase my overall strength.  I’m still doing two short weekly runs and one long{ish} weekend run but I’m not logging my usual miles this month.

Maintain a mostly Paleo diet.  When in crossfit, do as they do, right? My instructor encouraged/challenged us to try going Paleo so I’m going to give it my best shot.  I’ll share some more thoughts on it in a later post.

Complete my first mud run / obstacle race.  I’m signed up for the Warrior Dash on April 20th and am completely stoked to run it.

Haven’t joined the #GoalGetter2013 challenge yet? It’s never too late to get started working towards a better you.  Check out this introduction post and then join some of my favorite blends (bloggers + friends = blends) as we work toward achieving our 2013 goals!  This is your #GoalGetter2013 team:

Question:  How are you coming with your goals? What are you wanting to accomplish in April?

February #GoalGetter2013 Checkin

I realize that February is the shortest month but it really seemed to fly by this year.  And so far, March has lived up to it’s in like a lion, out like a lamb stereotype.  Thanks to getting diagnosed with bronchitis and sinusitis, I have been down for the count.  Not only have I been cooped up in my house since Thursday, I haven’t done any workouts – literally ZERO – since the marathon last Sunday.  This is also the longest I’ve ever missed work.  My house is starting to feel like a prison and I’m beyond stir crazy.

Now that it’s March, it means I say goodbye to my February goals and hello to March goals.

goalgetter2013

Here’s how I did on my February Goals:

Run marathon #2 aka Rock-n-Roll New Orleans.  I don’t have an official time goal.  I want to finish somewhere in the 4:20s.

  • Goal accomplished.  And while I wanted to finish in the 4:20s I actually finished with 4:18:50!  If you missed my race recap you can find part 1 here and part 2 here.

Love this guy so much!{best husband ever}

GotSub 2 hour 1/2 marathon (PR). I’m not sure if this is going to happen. With marathon training, I’ve been focusing more on endurance then speed so I’m not sure if I’m conditioned enough to run a sub 2 but I’m going to give my best effort.

half

Spend more time in the kitchen.  These past few months I have gotten way too comfortable with blending my meals (smoothies / protein shakes) instead of taking time to cook something.  This often leaves hubby hanging for supper which means he seizes the opportunity to get fast food. #WifeFail

  • Fail.  While I did cook more then I have been, I still didn’t do a great job with this.  Sorry hubby.

Here are my March goals:

  • Get better!! This one may seem like a silly goal but it’s super important right now.  I haven’t been this sick in years and it’s really messing with me mentally.  I feel like I’ve regressed, fitness wise, tremendously.
  • Spend more time in the kitchen. Yep, I putting this one back on my list; however, I’m going to be more specific this time.  I will make at least one meal the both of us can enjoy.  One of the reasons I find this such of a struggle is due to the fact that Jody aka the hubster refuses to eat clean.  After 1 1/2 years of clean eating, I still haven’t been able to get him on the bandwagon.
  • Enjoy my next half marathon.  At the end of the month I will be running the Viking Half Marathon and I just want to have fun.  I’m not worried about time goals or PRs.  Just whatever happens, happens.
  • Cross train, cross train, cross train! Now that I’m not training for a marathon (first time since last July) I can focus my attention on cross training without fear of injury.  I will be hitting the weight machines pretty hard, cycling my little legs and {of course} still getting in my running – just not 40 miles a week worth of running.
  • Focus more on my spirituality.  I have dropped the ball big time with my devotions and Bible reading in the past few months.  Instead of getting up and getting into His word, I find myself jumping onto the computer to check the blog/social media/my favorite bloggers.  My priorities definitely need re-arranging.

Haven’t joined the #GoalGetter2013 challenge yet? It’s never too late to get started working towards a better you.  Check out this introduction post and then join some of my favorite blends (bloggers + friends = blends) as we work toward achieving our 2013 goals!  This is your #GoalGetter2013 team:

Question:  How are you coming with your goals? What are you wanting to accomplish in March?

Carbo Loading Done Right & Pasta Primavera Recipe

Now that I’m only four days out from the marathon I’ve turned my attention to final race day preparations.  Today, this includes two things.  Banishing my sick husband to the guest room (am I a terrible wife?) and starting to carbo load.

I think carbo loading is by far one of the greatest benefits of race week.  I mean, we’re talking all you can eat pasta, pizza, ice cream, right?  WRONG! While this week is fun, there are definite rules behind it. Carbo loading is so simple yet so misunderstood.  Throw in ‘clean’ carbo loading and people really start to freak.  Trust me…..been there, done that.   Below I’m going to explain {my version} of the who, what, when & how of proper carbo loading.

spaghetti-with-creamy-marinara

Who should carbo load? Before reading all this information, you should determine if carbo loading is appropriate for you.  If you’re participating in a short event like a 5k or 10k you don’t need to carbo load.  You will not be taxing your muscles enough to tap into the reserve energy that carbo loading builds up.  Think endurance events  15k, 1/2 marathon, marathon, etc.

What is carbo loading? To understand how to properly carbo load you have to first understand the science and benefit behind it.  The main point of carbo loading is to make sure your glycogen stores are full before the big event.  So what exactly is glycogen?  Merriam-Webster defines it as, “a white amorphous tasteless polysaccharide (C6H10O5)x that is the principal form in which glucose is stored in animal tissues and especially muscle and liver tissue”.

Gina defines glycogen as, “the energy stores that fuel your muscles.”

Glycogen is what keeps your muscles moving during endurance events like marathons, triathlons, etc…  It keeps you from hitting the dreaded “wall” where your muscles literally shut down.

When do you carbo load?  You might think that one big pasta meal before the race is sufficient but you would be guilty of the stereotypical carbo load mentality.  Research has shown in order to reach optimal glycogen levels you need to start upping the carb intake 48-72 hours before the race. Yep, 2-3 days!  If you show up to a race with just one carb heavy meal under your belt, you’re starting the race off on the wrong foot.  I really like to start increasing my carb intake 5 days before the race (in my case, the marathon on Sunday).

How do you carbo load & how much is enough?  This is completely subjective for each person but all the books and articles I’ve read suggest that 80-95% of your daily calories (leading up the the race) should be from carbs I found this carb calculator online if you want to see the breakdown of how many carbs you should aim for.  Preferably your increased glycogen stores will be from complex carbs (whole grains, vegetables and legumes) in the week leading up to the race and then simple carbs (refined wheat, fruits) the day prior to the event.  The reason I like to switch to simple carbs the day prior is because, for me at least, they’re digested easily.  Try to stay away from fats and refined sugars.

Speaking of digestion.  The day before the race, I really like to have my last big carb meal during the day and not at night.  I want to make sure to give my body enough time to have any ummm adverse reactions (you know what I’m talking about) before the marathon.

Clean eating has it’s own challenges when it comes to carbo loading.  It’s really easy to follow a clean diet 2-3 days out from the race but the day before I tend to relax a bit.  I’ll order pasta made with refined noodles or thin crust pizza made with white flour.  I had a twitter follower @jennvoss ask about paleo carbo loading and found a great article that explained the Paleo carbo loading how-to’s.  I don’t know enough about Paleo eating to even offer an opinion in that area.

So what are some clean foods that are high in carbs?  Look at stocking your fridge and pantry with whole wheat pasta, brown rice, granola, whole wheat pancakes & waffles (YUM!), oatmeal, figs, dates, raisins, baked potatoes & sweet potatoes, yams, beans (eat those early in the week, not the day or two before the race due to the fiber content), peas, bananas, berries, citrus, etc….

Just to give you an idea of how I’ll carbo load this week, I started last night with a yummy pasta primavera.  This hearty dish is packed full of veggies and the whole wheat noodles provide a stick with you punch.  Since hubby doesn’t really care for veggies (might be why he’s sick….) I’ll actually eat this for a few different meals.

pasta primavera

download

My breakfasts will consist of my either favorite Nature’s Path flax cereal with raisins or RAW oats.  Lunch – a sammich and veggies.  Dinner – Either a pasta or rice dish.  My snacks (I live for my snacks!) will be fruit, crackers, granola, or yogurt.  And race morning will be cereal, part of a bagel and then 30 minutes before the race I’ll drink about 6oz of Cytomax.  WHEW! I think that covers everything for this post.  Are you tired of reading yet??

Just one more morsel of advice….. Stay away from the scales this week!! You will gain weight, possibly even a few pounds, but it’s OKAY.

Question:  How do you prefer to carbo load before a big event? What’s your favorite pre-race meal?

Kid Approved Taco Cups

Thank you all for your supportive words and prayers from Wednesday’s post.  Every one of your comments meant a lot and really touched my heart.  Continued prayers for guidance and wisdom are definitely appreciated.

Several months ago I did a guest post for Stephanie from Fit Mom in Training which included a kid approved taco recipe and some thoughts on clean eating.  I realized recently that I’ve never shared it with y’all! *Face palm*  My apologies…

A lot of people have the misconception that clean eating is complex, uses incredibly strange ingredients and is not kid friendly at all.  And while that is partially true, there are a lot of great, clean recipes out there aren’t like that at all.  Recipes that use normal ingredients and are easy to make.  Introducing clean meals to your family is a great way to help your children develop life long, healthy eating habits.  Can I get an ‘Amen’?

So here is one of those recipes; a clean eating, kid approved taco cup recipe.  Besides loving these things myself, I tested them out on my niece and nephews this summer and they loved them, too!  They are a bit messy to eat (the taco cups, not the kids) but who cares, tacos are supposed to be messy, right?

Taco Cups

recipe 2

I have a 20 miler on tap for tomorrow – eek! I’m pretty nervous about it because 1.) my foot issues and 2.) I’m having to do it solo.  20 miles is a looooooooooooong way to run without any company.  I’ll have my Ipod but, for safety reasons, I really don’t like listening to when I’m by myself.  I want to be able to hear someone rushing up on me or if a car is about to hit me. Basically, I want to hear if I’m about to die – lol…  Only 5 weeks until Rock-n-Roll New Orleans; y’all wish me luck!

Questions:  What’s your favorite {healthy} go-to recipe for kids?  What do you do on solo long runs to keep yourself focused?

Banana Protein Pancakes

This is a recipe that I’ve been meaning to post for awhile, but like most things, I haven’t gotten around to it until now.  I can sometimes be a slight procrastinator…

During Hurricane Isaac (in August – told you this recipe is a bit late) I was craving pancakes.  Not all too unusual because I do love a good pancake.  However, there aren’t many pancake recipes that are clean eater friendly – that don’t taste like rubber.   Hmph… This led to playing in my kitchen which ultimately resulted in these beauties!  {Insert trumpet fanfare.}

Banana Protein Pancakes

Banana Protein Pancakes

They were fabulous and fluffy, very banana-y, and oh so good!  With only a handful of ingredients, you, too, can be enjoying some protein pancake goodness.  So here’s the recipe low down –

  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder (I used RAW).
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 very ripe banana
  • 1 cup milk (plus more if needed to thin the batter)

Step 1: Mix together the dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl, mash the banana to smithereens, add the milk, then add the lightly beaten egg and stir everything.  Slowly combine the dry ingredients with the wet; stir just until combined.  Depending on how you like your pancakes, you may want to add some milk to thin the batter out a bit.

Step 2:  On a pre-heated skillet, drop 1/4 c batter and cook until the entire pancake bubbles.  The trick to these pancakes is to cook them low and slow (like medium heat).  With the addition of the banana and protein powder, these puppies take quite a bit longer than regular pancakes.  If you have the heat up too high, you cook the outside and have pancake soup on the inside.  LOW and SLOW, people! Got it?

Step 3:  EAT!!  This recipe makes 10 pancakes if you use the 1/4 c method.

Since I love all things peanut butter, I topped mine with natural peanut butter and pure maple syrup – they were divine! I’ve also contemplated using chocolate protein powder instead of vanilla for a bit more decadent pancake.  If you try that, let me know how it tastes!  You can also ditch the protein powder all together and just make some really yummy, kid-friendly banana pancakes.

pub

Tonight, my running buddies and I are meeting with a new running group.  And I. Am. Excited! The group meets every Wednesday at an Irish Pub.  They have a few different courses but after you’re done running you meet back up for drinks and appetizers.  Sounds fun, right?

Question: Are you a pancake lover? What’s your favorite topping??