Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy 2012

I thought it'd be interesting to look at my blog from last January to see if I had any big ambitions for 2011 and how I did. It turns out that I actually wrote the words, "I just want to do an Ironman and that's all."


I kept my New Year's resolution?!

I am totally on a roll.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Calendar quagmire

Friday, December 30. As my husband so wisely asked before getting out of bed, "What is the point of today?"

It's not the last day of the year, when I'll go watch some football, cook some more goodies, and spend all night playing games with family. But it's also not the first day of the year, when I'll (over)enthusiastically get to work on my 2012 goals and the Whole30 challenge.

It feels a little too late to be just chilling out and reveling in the Christmas afterglow but a little too early to go into hyperdrive and start taking down the decorations.

What is the point of today?

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Factors of 10

I've been toying with an idea for my New Year's resolutions…or maybe I should think of them as a set of stretch goals for 2012, since they're pretty ambitious. See what you think:

  • Memorize 10,000 words (approximately the final 14 chapters of the book of Romans).
  • Walk 1,000 miles (any running miles would count, too).
  • Sell 100 items on eBay (yes, I probably do have that much junk, and if I run out, my parents have plenty that they want me to sell for them).
  • Lose 10 more pounds (from my low of 169 in November, not from whatever nonsense I weigh now).
  • Write 1 children's book and try to get it published.

Some of these seem rather…challenging all by themselves, let alone in combination, but I like the fancy round numbers. And I like challenges. Anybody want to try any of these with me? Walk 1,000 miles??

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Total and utter meltdown

My husband and I are playing cooking chicken. No, no one is cooking chicken. We're playing chicken to see which one of us breaks down and actually cooks something first (besides eggs).

Until I give up and admit defeat—and it will almost certainly be me who does—we've all been subsisting on the holiday leftovers. Mainly mashed potatoes, rolls, cookies, sugared pecans, a giant cookie, a popcorn cake, chocolate-covered pretzels, pie, and chocolate-covered macadamia nuts.

If I'm not back here to blog about my next Paleo challenge on January 1, it's because I'm dead.

Friday, December 23, 2011

End-of-year unraveling

I had the other half of the jicama for breakfast, cooked pretty much the same way. I had leftover chili for lunch. Now I have a problem. I'm starving again, and there are no more Paleo leftovers. Anything healthy I want to eat, I'm going to have to cook.

I must be backsliding, because a month ago, "If you want to eat, you have to cook" was pretty much my motto. Now it is, "But I don't waaaaaaaant to cook." There's too much other stuff to do, and the sugar addiction has taken hold—which is actually why I'm starving in the first place. I never got this hungry when I was good about eating Paleo.

Plus, I'm suddenly being flooded with work. Don't people realize it's December 23??

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Jicama hash

After reading about them somewhere, I bought a jicama. It looked like this:
It sat on my counter for six days. This morning, my husband referred to it as the "jicama of shame."

So this afternoon, even though I would have rather had chocolate-covered macadamias for lunch, I cut it open, peeled it (with some difficulty), and tried it. I had heard the taste described as "a cross between an apple and a potato," and that was pretty accurate. It also reminded me of a water chestnut.

The thing seemed too sweet to be treated like a potato, but I've been having good luck with hashes. I first fried some bacon in order to cook it in the grease. (I wanted this jicama to get the message loud and clear that it should be savory, not sweet.) When the bacon was done, I took it out and added to the pan about a quarter of a chopped onion, a clove of minced garlic, and half the jicama (grated), plus salt and pepper. When I had deemed that all more or less cooked, I cracked in an egg and stirred it around to coat everything and let that cook. Then I crumbled the bacon over it.

It was fairly yummy. I think I like it better than sweet potatoes, anyway. The true test will be what happens to the other half-jicama sitting in the fridge.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Sugarfest 2011

We're having a Christmas Eve dessert with my in-laws over at our house this year, and I'm getting psyched. How often do I get to bake with actual sugar and flour anymore?

The menu so far: cinnamon rolls (or maybe a cinnamon roll cake), chocolate-covered pretzels, candied pecans, and roll cookies, plus hot chocolate, tea, and coffee. That's probably more than enough for six people, but I still feel like there's something missing. (Plus, I can share the leftovers with my side of the family on Christmas Day.)

Hmm. Caramel corn? More cookie varieties? What's pretty and well worth the sugar hangover?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Ode to breakfast

I used to think I could never eat Paleo because I had to have Cheerios, bananas, and milk every day for breakfast. It was my favorite meal of the day, because I loved not having to plan it or think about it. Pour, slice, pour. Mindlessly delicious. I generally rolled out of bed, ate while reading the newspaper, and then went straight to work.

Well, I'm here to tell you, I've found a new rut.

Breakfast remains my favorite meal of the day, hands down. But the new default is two fried eggs, two strips of bacon, and a grapefruit. I frequently branch out, though, with turkey sausage, sweet potato hash browns, sauteed mushrooms, or different kinds of fruit.

It's still a no-brainer, but it definitely isn't mindless any more. I now start my day by cooking hash browns for the boys, quizzing them on whatever they're working on for school, chatting with everyone while my husband packs their lunches and I put away last night's dishes, and making tea. Then the kids do a few quick chores, my husband gets them off to school, and I start our breakfast. If I don't have to work right away, we eat it together while playing a few hands of cards.

Even though I've just told you how poorly I've been eating for the past week, it has never crossed my mind to change anything about breakfast. I love having energy, and serenity, in the mornings.

Monday, December 19, 2011

RICE and sugar

I am having trouble with yoga because of this groin muscle that won't heal. I know the drill is Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. But the injury is in an awkward spot for Ice and Compression, and the only way to Elevate it would be to stand on my head. I guess that leaves Rest, which is really Annoying. I am starting to make serious strength gains and hate to stop now. Plus, it seems like every time I show up there, someone tells me how Skinny I am looking, which always makes my day.

I actually haven't lost any more weight lately, but I wouldn't expect to, because truth be told, I haven't been eating well. It seems like one day last week I was allowing myself a single Belgian chocolate sample at Costco, and the next thing I knew I was eating seven sugar cookies in a row and having half a pizza for dinner (that was yesterday's disaster). Sugar in particular is really insidious. Once I start, I crave it like crazy.

As of this morning I'm trying to clean up my diet again, but it's a bit of a lost cause, because I'm already planning on eating sugar on Christmas Eve, Christmas, and New Year's Eve. I've been thinking that in January I should do another Whole30—or Whole31—which is the strict Paleo challenge that got me started. At least in January I will have the moral support of millions of other New Year's Resolutioners. Eating well in December is like trying to be the only one in your social circle who doesn't do crack.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

"Food, Inc."

My son and I watched the first half of the "Food, Inc." documentary on Netflix last night—his idea, not mine. Before it started, I told him, "Now, look. They're probably going to say some bad things about ground beef. I want you to know that Dad and I always get organic, so it probably doesn't apply to the beef we eat."

Good disclaimer, me! They said some horrifying things about ground beef. So horrifying that I'm not sure buying organic is good enough, since I still don't really know anything about where it comes from. I'm seriously considering buying half a cow from my husband's uncle, who is a small rancher here in Montana, even though it's really expensive upfront, and it also means we would also have to buy a freezer to keep all the meat in.

I have another problem, too. We don't buy organic chicken (YET), and now I'm not sure I can eat what's sitting in our freezer.

I don't want to scare you out of watching it. It's gross, but not in a terribly graphic way. You'd be almost as disgusted if you just read the transcript. But it's really, really important stuff. I mean, this is what we eat. We should be up in arms about what's been happening, but at the very least, everyone can educate themselves and vote with their checkbooks.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Vitality now!

I still have a nagging cough, but I'm delighted to be well enough for yoga again. As a bonus, I've discovered that I can now do a yoga push-up (visual aid at left). Why I suddenly developed that ability after a week and a half of being sick, I couldn't tell you. Maybe I am more determined now to be full of vitality.

Speaking of health and vitality, I noticed the other day that my plantar fasciitis is finally completely gone. My heels first started hurting back in February, but I just kept pounding the crap out of them anyway until the race in June. It then took SIX MONTHS of no running before I could get out of bed in the morning without limping. I was surprised by that, but in a way I didn't mind. I always knew my body would take a serious, serious beating if I did the Ironman.

Here's what I do mind, though: When I was in the throes of this virus, I bent over to reach for the floor and pulled a muscle in my groin. Just bend…twang. (Apparently one feature of the disease is that it turns your muscles into old rubber bands.) That was about a week ago, and it hasn't even started to heal.

My parents claim it's old age. Whatever it is, I don't like it. If I'm going to be limping around, I'd at least like a finisher's medal or something to show for it.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


One of the Paleo bloggers I have been following declared recently that he now thinks Paleo is a fad diet and he's no longer an advocate. Now, obviously he didn't conclude that boxed macaroni and cheese was better for him. He just thinks the diet as most people follow it contains too much fat and protein (i.e., meat) and not enough carbohydrates (i.e., vegetables). So now he eats mostly fruits and vegetables, with fish a couple of times a week.

I was a little confused by this, because as far as I can tell his diet is still Paleo—at least it follows all the same guidelines about what not to eat. And it got me thinking: What's the difference between identifying with a diet "movement" and just trying to eat as healthfully as possible, according to your understanding of what an optimal diet is? I think it boils down to this: Being part of a movement is more fun. We all know we should eat healthy foods, but that's a day-to-day struggle and, frankly, kind of boring. Plus, everybody does that. It's much more entertaining to embark on a special 30-day challenge and then tell yourself you're eating a certain way because you're now a different kind of eater.

The past few days, I've gone down a rabbit hole of reading about nutrition research and the debate over "Paleo," and I have several takeaways:

  1. I'm going to continue to think of myself as a Paleo/primal eater. ("Being healthy" was never the motivator that "eating primally" has become.)
  2. There's a lot of debate over what percentage of fat, carbs, and protein people should eat, and some dedicated and well-meaning people are busy trying to figure that out. But I've come to the conclusion that I've been eating too much meat and fat lately. I think I'm going to try to not be so free and easy with the bacon for a while. (As a bonus, eating less meat will be great for our grocery budget, which has gotten out of control.)
  3. It just doesn't seem like humans are built to eat dairy outside of infancy. The fact that most people in the world are actually intolerant of it should probably be our first clue. I'm going to try harder to stay away (again, good for the grocery budget).
  4. The federal food pyramid, which tells people to make grains the foundation of their diets, is just wrong. If people replaced all those mostly-wheat carbs with fruit and vegetable carbs, it would make a world of difference. People may debate about the sugar in fruit, but you just cannot go wrong with vegetables. That doctor who cured her MS by improving her diet suggested eating 9 cups a day. I'm going to keep learning to cook them until I love them.
  5. You should definitely not be coming to my blog for nutritional advice. I don't know nothing about nothing. All I'm doing is giving you my impressions and sharing my experience. If you have time and good critical-thinking skills, go find a blog with lots of citations to get your advice from instead.
And sorry to post another long diatribe about nutrition. It's just that when I get into something, I really get into it. This, too, shall pass. Maybe next I will become obsessed with something fun, like roller derby, or balloon animals!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Christmas card dilemma

Now that I'm well enough to type, and presumably well enough to piece together a coherent sentence, it's time to write the annual Christmas newsletter. But I'm in a quandary. My husband and kids don't even like to be mentioned in the thing, and really my only news for the year is the Ironman. Any ideas on how to twist a 16:34 Ironman finish into a heartwarming Christmas message from the whole family?

Dear loved ones, enjoy this tale of the year I abandoned my children and spent hundreds of dollars on myself in order to improve the appearance of my knees, prove how cool I am, and secure an amazing picture of me me me ME MEEEEE!

Okay, now I'm really laughing, because the linked-to post already declares that the finish-line photo is "going on the Christmas cards this year for sure!"

Guess I set myself up for a Very Narcissistic Christmas from the start, eh?

Monday, December 12, 2011

No virus zone

I am slowly crawling out of the hole that is this disease. On Friday I got showered and dressed in the morning and declared myself cured, but that didn't work. On Saturday, I stayed in my pajamas and watched movies on the couch all day, but that didn't work either. On Sunday, I thought I might actually be well, but then I discovered that an hour and a half of sitting in church was pretty much the limit of what I could handle for the day, exertion-wise.

Today I have gotten dressed, worked a little, and gone out shopping, and still haven't felt the need to lie down on the couch with my box of Kleenex. Though if I was truly well, I would have gone to yoga, so I'm not quite back to my normal self yet.

I was hoping that Paleo eating would mean a fast recovery, but after a few days, the problem became that I was too pathetic to cook, and no one else particularly wanted to whip up complicated, delicious dishes that met my strict dietary requirements. The fasting thing went right out the window, too. I figured it made more sense to eat whenever my body decided was a good time.

And so now I don't care what anyone says about jinxing, because as soon as I have the strength, I am taking such immaculate care of myself that I am never getting sick again. Mark my words.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Something tells me I'm getting predictable

So I was telling my 13-year-old about this video I watched today:

"It's a talk given by this woman who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, which is an incurable disease. It makes your brain shrink and messes up your balance and motor control. She was taking the medicine for it and everything, but she just kept getting worse and worse, and pretty soon she couldn't even sit up in a normal chair but had to use in a special reclining chair. But this woman is also a doctor, so she did a bunch of research and found out about some vitamins that might help her, and they did slow down the disease but didn't stop it. So then—"

"Let me guess. She started eating Paleo and now she's cured."

Well…smarty pants…actually, yeah. But it's still pretty amazing. The great thing is she's now involved in clinical studies that will help see if her experience might help others as well. I linked to the video at right under "We have a choice."

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


I must be feeling a bit better because I spent a lot of time in the kitchen today. (On the other hand, I had to sit down and rest frequently, so not a lot better.)

First I made some turkey sausage patties for breakfast. I didn't have all the spices called for in the recipe, but I used salt, pepper, fennel, thyme, garlic, cloves, and nutmeg. Verdict: Very tasty, super easy, and nice to have something other than bacon with my eggs once in a while. But next time I will skip the cloves and nutmeg, because that tasted as odd as it sounds.

I found some spaghetti squash at the store the other day, so next I decided to try it and see if you could really use it in place of spaghetti. I also made meatballs that I was sure the kids would eat; they were basically just balls of hamburger with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and fennel mixed in. (But I made sure to grind the fennel up first so they would never suspect they were eating something new.) Verdict: I wouldn't want to eat the spaghetti squash plain, but with sauce and mushrooms and meatballs all over it, you can't really taste it at all, so I'd say it was a success. It looks cool, too! And the kids seemed to like the stripped-down meatballs. Or at least they were eaten without dinnertime heartbreak. Close enough. (I cooked them real noodles and didn't make them try the squash.)

Finally, I took another stab at a cookie recipe I've been working on. They're not Paleo, because they contain chocolate chips with sugar, but frankly, they're a step up from the Frosted Mini-Wheats the kids used to eat all day. They're made from almond butter, apples, cocoa powder, coconut milk, coconut flour, salt, and chocolate chips. They're not really sweet enough right now unless you load them up with the chocolate chips, but I'm experimenting to see how many apples I can get in there before anyone notices that they actually contain apples. Verdict: I loaded this batch with chocolate chips, so they were pretty awesome. The look and texture is exactly like "normal" cookies, and they are almost sweet enough. I'll post my recipe if I ever get it just right. It's pretty darn good for a low-sugar, wheat-free, egg-free, dairy-free cookie.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Color commentary

From the now-well 13-year-old:

"Mom, I told you not to keep saying you never get sick. Now you've jinxed yourself." Beat. "I mean, there, there."

Helpful definitions

Headaches, sore throats, and fatigue don't necessarily mean anything. You might not be at your best, but you can still get through your day. Here's how you can tell when "fighting off a virus" crosses that fine line over into "sick":
  • Your body is producing enough mucus to inconvenience you.
  • Every time you stand up, you think, "Oh, I shouldn't be standing."
  • You don't speak loudly enough to be heard because you haven't the strength.
  • You stop caring about the side effects of NSAIDs.
  • The warmth of the space heater is nice, but you need to move it farther away because you can't tolerate the blowing.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Immune system under fire

This weekend, I decided to test my frequently made claim that I never get sick by locking myself in various small spaces with a 13-year-old germ machine. Just to add to the challenge, I ate a bunch of fast food, didn't get enough water, and stayed awake all night listening to coughing.

Translation: The 11-year-old had an out-of-town swim meet, and even through his brother had been sick, we decided to bring him anyway and hope for the best. He never really got any better, though, so it was a long weekend in a small hotel room for everyone.

I do feel pretty poorly right now. But I'm going to say it's 35% crap-food hangover, 40% lack-of-sleep hangover, and 25% fighting off a virus. So I don't know if I'm going to count it as being sick. I would hate to end my streak over a tiny sore throat and a bit of fatigue. And a headache.

Yeah, I'm doing just great. Shut up.

(Hey, the swim meet itself was pretty successful, though. The boy improved a lot of his times, some of them impressively, and also swam the mile for the first time. He now says it's his favorite event, and his coach has nicknamed him "Ironman." Awww.)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Verdict: I am cuckoo

I finished off my November Health Month "game"—the big payoff at the end was a load of virtual "fruit" and the phrase "Verdict: You are awesome." It's not much, but I'll take it. :)

I broke one of my eating rules around Thanksgiving (gasp), but by far the hardest thing was limiting my Internet time-wasting to an hour a day. I did it, but I absolutely hated it, especially the necessity of using a timer to keep track. And after all that effort, I don't feel one bit less addicted to blog-reading or even slightly reformed about time-wasting.

But today I added my new rule, which is to do 20 minutes of housework every day. (Cooking and dishes don't count; I'm talking bathrooms and vacuums and clutter here.) I used an online timer for that, too, but counting down was fun and rewarding. I was happy the whole time I was cleaning, and when the alarm went off, I was all, "Verdict: I am awesome!!" I looked around and thought to myself, "Finally I'll be able to get all this cleaned up and organized!"

And then: Wait. Stop right there. What the tasty pie?

What, exactly, was stopping me from getting things cleaned up and organized before? Lack of a rule? Whatever is wrong with my brain that I do this to myself?