Stop Multi-Tasking!

… which is good advice in general, but especially if you’re trying to do something that requires willpower, or changing long-formed habits. In my case, I’ve been trying to:

  • Do another Whole 30, this time learning more recipes.
  • Start my son eating more healthily too.
  • Figure out how to do a Whole 30 with minimal meat. (Not zero meat. But I’d rather eat less meat, on environmental grounds.)

I haven’t broken the Whole 30, but I haven’t made much progress on the recipes either. I’ve just realised that I can’t do all three at once. The less-meat experimenting needs to wait until this Whole 30 is over.

On the other two: I bought Well Fed, by Melissa Joulwan, and it’s fantastic! It has the same template-recipe-with-variations format that I loved from It Starts With Food. And I flicked through it with my son, and he liked the look of most of the recipes! (Small miracle, he’s veg-averse). Of course, I don’t know if he’ll like the taste yet, but I’m optimistic.

However, before I decided to postpone the slightly-more-veggie-paleo, I did some research and found quite a few interesting things. This article from PaleoLeap is a great summary of some of the options for veggies to make their diet a little more paleo (without stopping being veggies). In particular, it was interesting that using legumes and (non-gluten-containing) grains is not so bad if they’re prepared properly: soaked, sprouted or fermented. The soaking sounds fairly easy, but is the least effective of the three options, the other two I like the sound of but need to do some more looking up recipes. Which I will postpone until I’ve learned some of the recipes from Well Fed, and finished this Whole 30.

The other thing that cropped up in my reading is that most health experts seem to agree(*) that the more-vegs-and-no-processed-food part of the Paleo diet is healthy – but there are definite debates about eating a lot of red meat. And many Paleo recipes include a LOT of red meat. (The one quibble I have with Well Fed is the idea that 4-6oz of meat per meal is a sensible portion size. That’s up to half a kilo of meat per day!). It seems like it would be sensible for me to make sure red meat is limited and I include a lot of fish, eggs, white meat, and vegetable fats like coconut and avocado.

(*) There’s so much controversy drifting around that I’m not even going to try to provide references for that, it’s just my own interpretation of my reading. But for an interesting take on this, have a look at this article where some of the controversies are covered. 

Basically, I’m going to have to try coconut oil again. Maybe I’ll like it this time… (fingers crossed). So tonight will be spent pulling together a meal plan and shopping list for the week from Well Fed, and tomorrow will be spent making lots of the sauces – wow they look good! I’m really looking forward to eating healthily! 🙂


Post-Christmas Cleanup

I’ve been off the diet/exercise over Christmas, but today was the day to restart healthy eating. Truth be told, I didn’t actually go too wrong for most of Christmas, anyway. Still, worth a refresher for the New Year so that I get started with good habits.

I’m not quite sure what flavour of Whole 30 I’m doing. I did AIP last time, but there are some things I’m pretty confident are okay – e.g. nuts – and some that I think might (only might) be a problem (nightshades).

I’m definitely avoiding soy from here on out though – Whole 30 or not. It doesn’t seem to agree with me at all. And I’ve definitely noticed that after Christmas, I could use a sugar reset. Temptation has crept back.

I’m really looking forward to this Whole30 – I don’t feel deprived this time, I feel excited about eating healthily again. I’m not saying I didn’t have chocolate cravings today, mind you. Hey, if I didn’t have the cravings I wouldn’t NEED to do another Whole30.

Also, I’m deferring restarting jogging until my son is back at school – I haven’t managed to persuade him to run with me. That will be day 10. Maybe I’ll manage to sneak in some small runs before then!

So excited to start the New Year right! Happy 2015 everyone!

Maybe Sometimes I Do Need Sugar

In the ongoing n=1 experiment that is my life, I think I’ve found the time when I legitimately do need sugar. Well, not the white powdery stuff, but a couple of nakd bars.

I’ve done two runs this week – 4.0 and 5.0 – and yesterday I was feeling a but rubbish. Nothing major, but it felt like my muscles just had no energy in them. Not exactly achy but as if the batteries were flat. So on the presumption that I needed rest, I spent the day relaxing, and ate some nakd bars – they’re about 50% dates, so quite carby. By the afternoon, I felt much better.

I guess if I’m exercising, I need to up the carbs a bit – but I’ve noticed that eating carbs before a run (even 2 hours before) makes it uncomfortable to run. So maybe a slight post-run carb top up. I know that P90X recommends carbs as well as protein in a recovery drink, so I guess it makes sense.

Hopefully I’ll be feeling good for my run this evening!

Thoughts So Far On Running

So, with a grand total of three runs (8.8km) behind me, it’s time to pontificate on running as if I know what I’m talking about.

Nah, you’d see through it. But it does seem worth jotting down a few thoughts for looking back on later. It’ll be interesting to see whether these turn out to be right, or to be way off the mark.

Firstly, the first few runs have increased a lot in distance. 1.5km, then 3.3km, then 4.0km. But I didn’t target those distances. Every time, I just went out to run until it was uncomfortable, then stop. I’m guessing these first few runs are getting me into what a run should feel like, rather than exhausting my fitness. I’m assuming that very soon I’ll reach a plateau where the distance stops going up so dramatically, and stays about level. That’s probably when I’ll have got over the “wow, how does this running thing work?” phase, and will have discovered my actual fitness level. I suspect I’m nearly there now.

Secondly, the first couple of runs were painful in different ways. The first run left me out of breath and exhausted. The second didn’t, but left me with very tired hip and knee muscles. The third, not really as tired at all: puffed, but feeling good. It’s worth mentioning at this point that (a) I’m really enjoying the runs and (b) I have a long history of doing exercise too intensively, getting worn out after a couple of weeks, and giving up. Assumption number two: the less-tired feeling on the third run does NOT mean that I took it easy, it’s simply that I’m getting more used to running. An average run should NOT be as hard as my first ever run. Running should mostly be at a level that’s enjoyable (challenging, but enjoyable). Pushing to the limit each time isn’t a balanced exercise programme.

Thirdly, lots of running sites suggest doing strength work on my non-running days. That may make sense in the long run, but it doesn’t make sense for me right now. I am feeling muscle ache in my legs, suggesting that running is still challenging me enough that I’m building leg strength. I do NOT want to exercise my leg muscles on non-running days right now. (Core or upper body, yes. But not a full body strength workout. No squats or lunges). I will listen to my own body and judge my own limits.

So: I will run until I’m tired but not set goals yet, I will not push myself to my maximum, I will only do strength workouts on my core/upper body for now, and I will exercise only to a level that is still enjoyable. I’ll give this a couple of weeks, and see how that plan works out.

It may take a few tries to figure this out, but I am enjoying the experiment – which, after all, is the main thing!

Jogging. I’m jogging. WTF?

Of course, I think you’re supposed to call it running these days. But I’ve seen the speed I’m going at, and I’m going to stick with calling it jogging for now*.

The unanswered question is why?

So here’s the thing. I’ve always hated running**. I get out of breath really quickly, my legs burn, and I feel like crap. But I’ve suddenly discovered that’s not true anymore. And I’m not sure what changed.

There are lots of possibilities. Maybe  it’s because I’ve lost weight. Although in the past I’ve been this weight and still hated running. But I was a smoker then, so maybe it’s being a lower weight AND a non-smoker. Then again, I’ve been running after my son as he scooters to school a bit, and I’ve gradually been able to get further without stopping, and now it seems like I can run. Also, I’m running much slower – in the past I always tried to set off fast (to actually run instead of jog). So maybe it’s that – building up gradually. Then again, because I’ve been on the Whole 30, I’ve cut out some bad foods and am probably better at using fat rather than sugar for energy. And have less inflammation. Maybe it’s that.

It could be any if the above – probably its a combination of all of them. But here’s the weird thing. I’ve been running after my son to school, getting a bit fitter. Sure. But that’s 0.5km, even if I run the whole way. Which I haven’t, until the last week or two. Yet when I decided to go out for a run, I did 1.5km on the first run, 3.3km on the second run. Which is more improvement than I’d expect. Hence the WTF?

I’m kind of suspecting that it’s mostly down to the food, although I guess time will tell. For now, I guess the best thing I can do is take advantage of the moment!

*(In case you’re wondering, 3.3km in 27 minutes. Not fast at all. That’s not a surprise. The surprise is that the bear can dance at all.)

**(Actually, it’s not true that I’ve always hated running. I just remembered, I used to run 800km in PE lessons at school. But that was mostly to get out of the other alternatives like e.g. high jump.)

Change of Plan

I’ve spent the last few days feeling rubbish with a cold, and also feeling very disinclined to diet or exercise. Although my weight has continued to trend downwards, so yay for that… Still, I just can’t get up the enthusiasm to do P90. Yet this morning I ran to and from my son’s school. Not a massive distance (maybe 0.5km each way), but given that I’ve never been a runner, it’s a big deal for me.

Which has got me thinking. Why is some exercise totally off-putting, but other types of exercise are just fun? Why is it that I used to hate running but enjoy step aerobics, whereas today I can’t bring myself to put a DVD on but enjoy running along behind my son’s scooter?

I haven’t got an answer. But one thing I do know is that trying to make myself do exercise I hate isn’t going to get me exercising regularly. So: some running, straight from dropping my son off at school. And some swimming (I love swimming). And the DVDs are being put away for a while. Maybe I’ll want to do them another time, maybe not. But I’m going to stick to doing the stuff I enjoy.

On a related note, I’m celebrating a milestone imminently, and as a result of that, having a slight change of focus.

I’ve been very focused recently on losing weight, and getting fit has been secondary. I’ve spent two months losing weight, and I’ve lost over two stone (14.5kg). But I’m now within a week or two of my BMI being “normal”. That was me going from obese to normal in two months, and I’ve achieved it.

The next phase is a bit different. The next phase is about finding the size, shape, weight, activity level that I’m comfortable with. Now I need to find out how much fat and muscle I’m comfortable with, and what weight that turns out to be. How much exercise I can do weekly, and what sort of exercise I enjoy and will stick at – not for a few weeks, but for months and years. And that is a whole different game.

Also, what my diet should be long-term. Which bits of the Whole 30 should I stick with (low sugar, nightshades), which things can I reintroduce (eggs). And can I find a diet that keeps me healthy but is much lower meat, which I’d like to do for environmental reasons.

So, experimentation time. Possibly several starts and stops until I figure out what works. But hey – that’s how I learn. Onward and upward 🙂