Eating Better, Eating Worse

I have noticed over the years that there are patterns in what has worked and what has failed. Particularly as my diet gets worse, I always move on to worse foods in the same order, and I improve by reversing that.

I have also noticed that I can never successfully make more than one improvement at a time. Very occasionally, when I have had lots of free time, I have improved two things at once – but that was a full-time project. So it’s important for me to know where I am in my eating habits, and what a realistic goal is. The table below helps me to do that. I can easily see which level I’m on, and what I need to add/cut to improve one level.

Please note, I’m not saying that this is true for everyone, this is purely what I have noticed in my own diet. If you’re reading this, you may find that you have different “trigger” foods, or that you don’t have this kind of “slippery slope” at all.

Better-Worse Lifestyles

The other thing I’ve noticed, which depresses me a bit, is that I can’t get to the top level as a vegetarian or vegan. I get to level 2 at best. I was vegetarian for 20 years, and would like to cut out meat again for ethical and environmental reasons – but it just doesn’t work for me. I eat too many carbs and not nearly enough protein. I haven’t given up, but I haven’t found a solution for that one yet. I’m living in hope.

I’d love to have comments from anyone else who has noticed similar patterns what works or doesn’t work for you.

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 🙂


Why Make Life Easy? W30 and P90

Hey, at least it’s not P90X! (Maybe next time).

I’ve had trouble getting back on the W30 bandwagon, because it doesn’t seem like such a big thing second time, but I really, really want to get back to eating heathily again, and get fitter. I haven’t been eating super-bad – no weight gains – but I’ve lost the “feel great” factor. So I decided to double down. W30 and P90 – to make sure I get the exercise I need as well.

Technically, I should start the P90 on a Monday – there’s a calendar – but I’m just going to add a couple of extra days onto the beginning rather than put it off for two days.

So, first day. Food – sausages and vegs for breakfast, tuna nicoise (spinach, fine beans, red onion, olives and tuna) for lunch, sliced chicken and more vegs for dinner. Exercise – “Sweat A” (modified!). Okay, done.

Can I keep this up for 90 days? Ulp. Yeah, what the hell.

Now excuse me while I go have an essay crisis. Busy, busy….

Whole 30 Diary – Day 31

Off road! So far off road I can’t even see it! … Well, not really. But a bit.

So, I’ve decided against doing the careful reintroduction programme that’s given in “It Starts With Food”. Because I’m not coming off the Whole 30. But I am giving myself a one-day break between two lots of the Whole 30 to let my hair down and eat some crap.

I was sort of feeling by the end of the 30 days that I’d had enough of being so strict. But at the same time, I know I’m not actually in the habit of eating healthily enough to finish the Whole 30 and start eating a balanced diet off my own initiative. I’ve been dithering about it for a few days. Part of me said just stay on the Whole 30 until I feel ready, but the AIP is too strict, and it’s too open-ended. I need there to be a finish line in sight. Another part of me wanted to just go ahead and try to eat sensibly without being on the Whole 30, but if I’m really honest, I’m still having sugar cravings and I know I’d gradually slip back to eating badly.

So what I’m doing isn’t the recommended approach at all, but it feels right for me. One day to eat a few things I like: pizza, chocolate (both gluten and dairy free, as I was avoiding dairy and gluten even before I started Whole 30). Then another 30 days to do the stuff I didn’t get to: exercise, learn a wide variety of meals, give the cravings more time to go away.

Wish me luck!

Whole 30 Diary – Day 27

I’m still in the wrap-up stages of my Whole 30. I can’t say I feel “tiger blood” ish, but I do feel pretty good, and I’m determined to keep eating well after the Whole 30 ends. At the same time, I know that I haven’t really “cracked it” – I need to pick up more recipes. And I know that I’m going to have to try reintroductions of foods I’m avoiding on the AIP. And, lurking, I have the worry that if the reintroductions fail, and I have to eat like this long-term, what then?

One thing that I’ve been finding a bit annoying about the Whole 30 is that most Whole 30 recipes aren’t suitable for people following the AIP. BY most, I mean around 95%. It’s really hard to find recipes that I can eat, other than quite plain meat/fish-with-herbs and vegetables-with-herbs-or-lemon. Even Melissa Joulwan found it hard to enjoy food on the AIP!

Then, today, I found these.

betsyl33’s Pinterest Whole 30 AIP recipes

The Paleo Autoimmune Cookbook

Paleo AIP Recipe Roundtables

Now, obviously I haven’t really tried the recipes out yet, as I’ve only just found them, but I’m so desperate for recipe ideas that I’m posting them anyway, in case others feel the same. And, equally obviously – check for yourself that they really are AIP-compliant, especially if you already know what foods you need to avoid.

Off I go to maybe make some more varied food!

Whole 30 Diary – Day 25!

Holy crap! It’s day 25. Including today – which is half over already – I’ve got just six days left of my Whole 30!

So, a quick update. I’m feeling a lot better than I did last week – I think it was just a monthly cycle thing. So, that’s something. I’m still really craving sugary stuff – I think because the end is in sight. But as it gets nearer, I’m also starting to want to break the Whole 30 less. It’s as if it was a nice dream but I don’t really want to go back to sugar in reality. I will have one sugary treat when the Whole 30 is over though… maybe… I think… Well, let’s wait and see how I feel in another five days.

I really am looking forward to getting a few things back. Eggs, for one. (Yes, I know Whole 30 allows eggs, but I’m on the autoimmune protocol). I don’t really think that I have a problem with eggs, so assuming the reintroduction goes okay, it’ll be good to get them back. I’m dying for a really huge veg-filled frittata. I’m glad I cut eggs out though, as otherwise I think I would have eaten them too much. When they get reintroduced, it will be as just one more option for protein, not as a breakfast staple.

I also still need to broaden my recipe repertoire. I was reading Ottolenghi’s “Plenty” last night, and while there are lots of non-compliant recipes in there, it gave me loads of ideas of things I could adapt. I need to crack on and do it!

I also haven’t been doing the exercise that I should have. Starting today, strength workout every three days, yoga on the intervening days. And I want to learn to do a handstand. And after that, a cartwheel. And at some point, a pull-up. (That last may take a while, but let’s see). For now, handstand.

I also promised myself that I’d write out the list of how I feel better, just to remind myself on day 31 what it was all for (and why I don’t want to lapse!). So here it is:

More energy, no sugar lows.
Slimmer, and also less achy and more flexible.
Less fuzzy-mouth at the end of the day and in the morning.
Fingernails growing well, not breaking.
Not feeling hungry all the time.
Fall asleep easily, feel properly awake in the morning.
Easier to concentrate, I’m getting more stuff done.
Wider choice of meals, not always cooking the same few favourites out of a packet.

Things still to work on:
Getting enough sleep. (Although the sleep I am getting is more refreshing).
Exercise more.
Drink more fluids.
Learn more recipes, plan meals ahead.
Eat seasonally.
Make my meat choices more sustainable.

So, less than a week to go… But also a lifetime ahead to keep tuning this. Starting with some planning in this last week.

Whole 30 Diary – Day 21!

Wow! How did I get to day 21 successfully? Only 9 more days to go…

In theory, this should be the Tiger Blood section of the Whole 30, but I just haven’t been feeling it. Without going into TMI territory, let’s just say I’ve spent the last four or five days trying to make sure I’m eating enough fibre (my diet’s 80% vegetables, for goodness sake!) and that I’m drinking enough. Also I’ve taken some probiotics, as that was another suggestion from the Whole 30 site. Things seem to be improving, but eight drinks a day is LOADS! How does anyone drink that much without getting bored?

Also, I’ve noticed, it’s now been long enough since this began that I’m starting to take some of the benefits for granted. I did a quick audit to remind myself of what has improved since I started this – it’s a lot! It’s all too easy to forget how I felt when I was eating sugar.

Otherwise, I’m getting a bit bored with food – I’ve just bought a soup cookbook, and planning to experiment with some new recipes as well. A lot of the Whole 30 recipes aren’t okay on the autoimmune version, though – still, I can keep searching.

I am starting to fantasise about what the first treat will be when the 30 days are up. Today I cleared out my fridge to get rid of some chocolate that was stale, and tucked behind it was a small bar of my absolute favourite chocolate! Argh! If I can, I’ll leave it there until day 31. If I can’t, I’ll just have to let my son eat it! 🙂

So… Hopefully on the downward slope towards the finish, but still making adjustments and trying to get the diet right. And just 9 days to go…