Life: I Just Want To Be Bad

If you’ve been following along for a while, you know that I eat a paleo/primal/ancestral type of diet that includes high fat, grass fed dairy and excludes nightshades.  It’s been about two years since I changed my eating style.  I believe that this is a better way to eat and I recommend everyone try it for a month.

Lately, though, I just want to be bad.  The expression of that sentiment has been in the way I eat.  Not exactly the best way to go about being a rebel in life, but there it is.  I haven’t totally ditched my eating style, but I’ve been consuming way too much in the way of approved goodies, eating with television, and generally being too tired and stressed out to cook.

I know…excuses, excuses, excuses.  However, I think that this sentiment is worth talking about.  I’m obviously not perfect and neither is any other human being on the planet.  I follow along with the blog community of paleo/primal eaters and similarly oriented people, but there is a lot of shiny perfection going on.  I like pretty websites, but sometimes I think there is pressure to eat perfectly despite all the 80/20 and 90/10 declarations.

So really, what’s my problem?  Stressssssss.  Long hours at work does not lend itself to mindfulness when you I get home from work.  Instead, I want the past of least resistance.  Usually this means food, TV, shower, bed.

Why am I telling you all of this?  Mostly because I haven’t done anything about what’s wrong with my life right now and I intend to fix that.  I also promised to run a 5 K with a friend at the end of the month and I need to get my butt moving.

So, this is my declaration that things are off kilter and that I will be fixing them.  I’m starting with sleep and food.

Life: In the Blink of an Eye

In the blink of an eye, it’s gone from summer to fall.  The moment Labor Day was over, the weather turned cooler and drier.  The air conditioning that I had running constantly the week before due to hot and very humid weather has been idle.  I’m grateful for the silence.

Now that the weather has turned into autumn weather, I feel like the summer passed me by.  Though it’s not really up to me what my schedule is like, I feel robbed of all the wonderful things about summer – the carefree attitude, the sunny weather, the long days.  I never made it to the beach this year and I never had one of the those days that just gives you that warm, happy, languid feeling that happens in summer.

Mostly, it was a stressful summer of worrying about various things that need to be done – one after another.  Not a good way to spend summer.  So, yes, right now there is some regret at how this past summer went, but I also came to realize some things.

I realize that it’s important to make every moment count.  I am very guilty of wasting time.  I do know the difference between taking a beat or taking some down time to wasting time.  Let me tell you, I do a lot of time wasting.  More so when I’m stressed.

So, what would I have done differently?

1. Gone outside more – I spent a lot of time inside.  Sometimes because it was really just too uncomfortable to be outside, but a lot of times because I let the lazy feeling take over.

2. Less screen time – More than ever, I feel the life force draining out of me the more time I spend in front of my computer.  I find that I feel less grounded, less happy, and more disconnected.  Living alone, I use the computer to keep me company and that’s really just a bad habit.

3. Make sleep a priority – I spent a lot of days just being up because I was stressed out and not dealing well with my stress.  Getting consistently enough sleep is important.  I am no longer the person who can scrimp on sleep and still make it through the day intact.  Maybe it’s a sign of aging, maybe it’s the amount of stress I’m under, but I am a mess if I haven’t gotten at least 7 hours of sleep.  That is the bare minimum.  If I get any less, no amount of caffeine will perk me up and I will spend the whole day dragging myself around.

4. Taken a day off – I constantly feel as if I’m not doing enough for whatever I’m trying to accomplish and instead of realizing that maybe a day off would be the best way to use my time, I end up staying home and feeling guilty that I’m not doing work.  I need to get better at realizing that it’s better to be doing anything, whether work or play, than to be snuggling up with Hulu in the evenings because I don’t feel like I deserve a day off and I’m too stressed out to focus properly on doing anything productive work wise.

Autumn has definitely made the announcement about its arrival, but calendar wise there are still a little more than two weeks to go.  Even with the terrible schedule I have, I intend on doing better as I see these last two official weeks of summer out and welcome the autumn.

Life: Why I’m not doing Whole 30

I’m under the impression that a lot of people are doing Whole 30 this month.  I’m not that tuned into the Whole 30 community online (or off for that matter), but I do appreciate and like the idea of a Whole 30.  I’ve reached that point in my eating habits where my eating is a lot more fluid than it was when I started eating paleo/primal. However, a month of clean eating would probably be a good thing for me, especially since paleo/primal desserts and sweets have crept into my diet.  I would also like to drop a few stress induced pounds that have been hanging out since December.

So, why oh why am I not participating in this month’s Whole 30?  Well, for a number of reasons.  The biggest reason is that my mind is not there.  I have a lot of things going on and I just can’t pay enough attention to do Whole 30 right now.  Trying to force the food issue right now would only result in more stress, not less.  I tried a few times over the last few months to eat cleaner, but it never really stuck.  Right now is just not the time and I just have to be okay with that.  

I eat all right for the most part, so when I have that mental space and time, I’ll jump in and do a month of clean eating.  For now, as much as I hate to just let it go, I am letting it go.  

Eat: Roasted Beet Hummus

If you like beets at all, even just a little bit, you have to try this Roasted Beet Hummus recipe from The Primalist.  This recipe has garnered rave reviews.  Ever since I shared the recipe with some friends, the rave reviews are nonstop.  You can even boil the beets if you don’t want to go through an hour of roasting the beets.  My only thought now is trying this with golden beets.

Had I known about this recipe over the winter when I was suffering from beet overload, I might have been on better terms with beets during the late winter and early spring.  No matter, this recipe is for the save and use over and over again file.

Go try it:

Roasted Beet Hummus Recipe by The Primalist


PS If you have a food processor, save yourself some grief and use that.  If you don’t, I hope you don’t end up fighting with your blender like I did.  After fighting with my blender, a Vitamix is on my wishlist.

Life: Getting out of a rut

I’ve been battling a rut for a while.  Part of it is avoidance of all these big to do things that I have to do, but the rest of it I’m not quite sure about.  The biggest problem with this rut is that I have been feeling run down and constantly tired.  I would like to blame the weather, but I took care of that part of it and bought another air conditioner for my apartment.  I kept telling myself that I should start working out and start eating cleaner, but I just couldn’t really find the energy.  The lack of energy has been so bad that driving is scary.

Today, though it seems that the fog is abating a bit and I have some theories as to why I finally feel like I’m climbing out of this rut.

  1. Cut out the caffeine – I don’t usually have a daily caffeine habit.  I do enjoy coffee and tea, but usually it’s a splurge when I go out to a coffee shop to do work.  However, when I started a month of shift work with erratic hours, I started up a caffeine habit.  Mind you, I set a limit of one cup, but I tend to be sensitive to caffeine and continuing that one cup of coffee a day habit even after the erratic shift work was over was probably a bad idea.  Even though a tiny voice in the back of my head was saying that I should stop, I enjoyed the ritual of a morning coffee.  Last week, I read somewhere (sorry, I’m so terrible at remembering where I read things and linking up…something to work on) that daily caffeine could in fact prevent weight loss instead of promote it.  I would like to ditch a couple of pounds that I gained about six months ago, but I’m not actively trying to lose weight.  Reading that article reminded me what I knew all along about fatigue, adrenal function, and so on, so I ditched the coffee.  Sad, but necessary.  I used the rest of my cold brew as a hair rinse.  At least my hair smelled lovely.
  2. Drink more water – I’ve been lucky that the last couple of days I’ve been able to drink more water, but the reality is that most working days I’m lucky if I can remember to drink a cup or two of water.  I’ve gone whole shifts/days of work without drinking water.  I know this is really bad, but when you are running around all day, going to the bathroom is not on your list of to dos.  Naturally, it follows that you stop drinking water, too.  I’ve gotten in the habit of tucking a bottle of water into one of my giant pockets.  The trick now is to remember to actually drink that water.
  3. Sleep consistently well – Sleep has been problematic for me for most of my life.  I can hear just about everything in my sleep.  I also need about 9 hours of sleep to feel fantastic.  I wish I could be one of those people who feels awesome on 7 or 8 hours but frustratingly, I feel the best with 9 hours.  When I switched to eating a more paleo/primal diet, I started to sleep better, which was awesome.  Problem now is that if I get a couple of nights of good sleep, then the third or fourth night, I end up staying up too late.  There is probably a happy medium of being well functioning during the day and being able to sleep consistently well, but I still haven’t found it.  Something to work on.
  4. Get outside – Life has been busy and there is a whole lot of things that I am not doing that I need to be doing.  That being said, I’m basically hitting snooze a million times in the morning, dragging myself out of bed, and throwing on a bunch of black and rushing to work.  When I get home, some evenings I found myself cuddling with my laptop and sleeping because I was too tired to make dinner or do much of anything else.  I realize that no matter what I need to get outside once a day, twice would be preferable, but let’s start small.  Getting outside gets me the natural light exposure that I need and a much needed dose of outside air.  Being inside all day with not very well circulated air is probably contributing to my exhaustion.  Not to mention the lack of natural light is probably not helping my circadian rhythms either.
  5. Breathe – When things get busy, I have a tendency to get wound up and tense.  I start wanting to micromanage and control every detail about what’s going on.  I often don’t realize this until I’m well into doing it and I find myself walking around with a clenched jaw and stiff muscles.  One of my favorite teachers of all time told me on Friday, “Don’t just do something, stand there.”  At first, I was confused, but he was saying that sometimes you have to stop doing and just take a step back and take it all in.  “Don’t forget to enjoy this,” he said.  After that conversation I realized how much I was working myself up and making things more stressful for myself than they need to be.  So one at a time and breathe.

There are probably a million more things that I could change and do differently to feel better, but those are the things that come to mind that seem to have shifted over the last few days.  I was really floundering for a while trying to figure out why I was feeling so terrible.  Hopefully, things are a lot better from here on out.

How do you get yourself out of a rut?

Do: Read, Process, Discuss

This morning I woke up to find a round up of links on No More Dirty Looks about carbs, milk, brain aging, and exercise.  The round up is a bunch of things that I think people should be talking about and things that I have an interest in, so I’m going to discuss those things briefly here and encourage you to go and read the original post and the links over at No More Dirty Looks.  The quotes below are all from the original post.

  1. “Refined carbohydrates may trigger overeating.” I would argue that it’s not just the “refined carbs” of white bread and pasta that are the problem, but also things like rice, whole wheat items, and other less refined/unrefined grain sources of carbohydrates.  While I have been heavier than I want to be at times in my life, I’ve never had a big issue with my weight.  However, I have noticed that when I ate grains back in the day, I would almost always inevitably keep eating until I was over full.  I used to think maybe it was an issue of mindfulness (and I’m sure that is part of the equation), but I think that where your carbs are coming from makes a big difference in how much you end up eating.  I prefer to make it easy on myself when I eat and just avoid grains.  I don’t have to worry about overeating and my weight stays more stable.
  2. “Hobbies like reading and writing make for a stronger brain later in life.”  Well, no problems in that department here, but reading this made me think of my grandfather.  He worked into his 90s and was always reading and practicing golf.  Not only is he a well regarded intellectual and scholar, but he is also very fit physically and could out hike my aunts and uncles.  I’m pretty sure that his deliberate way of living is why he is still alive today.  I have a suspicion that he’s healthier than I am.
  3. “Skim milk not healthier than whole milk.”  This is really no longer an issue for me since I’ve stopped drinking milk altogether.  However, I did drink milk growing up and had to drink a glass with dinner every night.  I believe we drink 2% milk until I was in high school and started drinking skim milk.  At the time, I thought I was being healthy drinking skim milk, but I have seen over and over again recently that altered foods are far from healthy.  I still eat cheese and yogurt from time to time, but I get these from local vendors at the farmer’s market and they are all of a full fat, whole food variety.
  4. “Mystery solved: How exercise calms anxiety.”  All I know is that I feel better when I have a mental break everyday to walk or run or rollerblade or lift weights.  I used to belong to a small gym that I could go to early in the morning and workout in peace and quiet.  I loved it.  Now, I belong to a chain gym that has great hours, but even at 5 am is blasting obnoxious pop music.  So much less enjoyable.  I’ve been trying to get a walk in before work, but so far that’s proved challenging.  I used to walk after work a lot with a friend or two and that was a great way to get a walk in and get some social time in.

All right folks, I hope you’ll go and read the interesting post and the links found on No More Dirty Looks.  I’d love to hear your reactions to the topics at hand and what you think about my reactions.

Have a wonderful Sunday!


Do: Cool Off

I live far enough north, in a place that gets plenty of snow in the winter, with cool enough that people tend to say that an air conditioner is unnecessary in the summer.  I beg to differ.  While the temperatures may not ever really pass the low to mid 80s, the humidity is another thing altogether.

I grew up with central air conditioning and then went to college out west where the air was dry desert air.  Trying to survive a humid summer without air conditioning is just not possible.  So last year, I bought a window air conditioner.  I installed it in my bedroom and for the most part while I was pretty warm elsewhere in my apartment, I survived without too much trouble.

This year, the humidity is much worse and the air just stagnates in my apartment.  No matter how or when I open the windows and position the fan, the apartment is just plain uncomfortable.  The act of breathing causes beads of sweat to break out.

I mused that maybe I needed to buy more fans.  Not wanting to spend money, I came up with the brilliant plan of putting aluminum foil in select windows to reflect the heat.  That worked okay for a while, but then the humidity got even worse.

Finally, after my sister pointed out that buying fans was pretty expensive and not a good way to combat humidity (which is my real problem), I decided to just go ahead and buy another air conditioner.

Well, I’m telling you right now, that was the best choice I’ve made in recent days.  Sure, I’m sad I had to part with a good chunk of change, but now I can stay in my apartment and turn on the lights without fear of becoming too hot.  I can even cook without becoming a puddle of sweat.

I realize that air conditioning is a luxury, but staying cool makes a big difference between whether I can actually be productive or not.

Lesson: If you can control something that makes you uncomfortable, then do it.  Even if it means a little bit of monetary sacrifice.



Life: Holidays

Happy Fourth of July!  I hope everyone has fun and relaxing plans for their Fourth of July celebrations.  Those of you not in the U.S., I hope you’re having a wonderful day, regardless.

I am fortunate enough to have today off, which doesn’t always happen.  Most holidays involve some time at work.  Usually an abbreviated day, but not an entire day off.  Today, I get the wonderful luxury of doing whatever I want all day.

Now, ideally I would be spending the day doing all the relaxing and enjoyable things that I don’t usually get to do, but I’ve spent my morning so far doing work that I haven’t been able to attend to for the last week.  Part of the problem here is that I have been procrastinating and part of the problem is that there are simply not enough hours in the day most days.

Lately, I realize how important it is to actually celebrate holidays and take the time to reflect, relax, and connect with people that are important to us.  That’s what holidays were meant to be originally, but as we’ve gotten more wired and sped up the pace of life, we frequently neglect to celebrate or even acknowledge holidays.  I’m certainly guilty of this.

Growing up my family didn’t pay too much attention to most holidays, but we did have some things that we did every year for certain holidays.  As I grew older we lost more and more of the ritual things we did for those holidays.  Some were simple things like putting up the cardboard cutouts of goofy looking pumpkins in our windows for Halloween and others were a little more involved like dragging the fake tree out of the attic to decorate for Christmas.

As we slowly stopped doing those things, I didn’t notice the loss too much and I was more relieved that there was less thinking and effort involved.  I was glad that I didn’t need to stand outside with chattering teeth and freezing fingers helping my mom string up Christmas lights and decorate the front of the house.  I also told myself that I was being kinder to the planet by not wasting electricity on frivolous decorating.

These days though I miss those rituals as simple as they might be.  I miss being excited to find my favorite pumpkin cutout that had a fuzzy size that I liked to rub with my hand as I put it up in the window.  (I always put the fuzzy side on the size facing away from the window because I didn’t want that side to fade.)  It’s a small thing, but it helped mark the passage of time and the celebration of autumn and a funny holiday called Halloween.

As I start to have a little more control over my time, I’d like to go back to having rituals for holidays.  Maybe not every single holiday, but having some traditions feels grounding and is a good way to take a step back from the rush of life.

What do you think?  How do you celebrate holidays?  Do you have any traditions that you like?

Wish: Fitness tracker

I was trying to avoid the creation of a wishlist-I-want-it category because I’m trying to cut down on how much I acquire as a consumer.  However, I’m only human and just because I’m not writing these lists doesn’t mean that I don’t actually want something.  I’m thinking of these lists as a coping mechanism and not an encouragement to go out and buy more things because the last thing we all need in this world is more stuff.  In fact, I’d argue that we need less, but that really is another discussion for another time.

So, without further ado, my current wish is for a fitness/lifestyle tracker.

I’m notoriously against the idea of doing things like count calories because the process seems like a lot of work and somewhat unnecessary.  Lately, it seems that I’m stuck in a bit of a rut and quantifying various aspects of my life might be a helpful way to figure what elements of my life need work.  These high tech trackers seem like a pain-free easy way to go.

  1. FitBit Flex – Fitbit has a wide range of tracking products, but I’m partial to the bracelet design just because logistically it seems easier to handle and not lose.  With a clean, adjustable design and easy tracking via apps and your computer, this seems like a good deal.
  2. Nike+ Fuelband – What doesn’t Nike do well?  When it comes to sports equipment and attire for the average person, Nike seems to do a good job.  I generally find their products to be well designed and well made.  Of course I would be happier if they made more products in the good ol’ USA, but I can’t argue with competitive pressure either.  Their bracelet has a sleek design with light up LED messages and tracking that seems more interactive than the other trackers.  I think the extra lights might be a much for my sensibilities, though.
  3. Jawbone UP – Jawbone has a sleek and very well designed bracelet with no real lights or trackers to speak of.  The bracelet seems less obtrusive than the two above, but the drawback is that there is no wireless syncing and it’s a bit pricier.

There are a lot of fitness bands out there on the market, but these seem like the three trackers that I would consider should I go ahead and buy one.

Do you have a fitness/lifestyle tracker?  If so, which one and what do you like about it?

Life: Monday Musings

Some thoughts that have been floating around in my head.

1. Eating strict paleo is easier when you don’t know about all the paleo substitutions that exist out in the world.  (Technically, all these paleo substitutions aren’t really paleo, but that would be a long discussion and debate.)

2. There seems to be some merit to the gut healing theory.  Personally, after two years of paleo/primal eating, I can eat some wheat based products without feeling completely terrible and in need of a long slumber to sleep it off.  Not that I am going to go back to eating wheat.

3.  I found out that my reaction to wheat is much improved because my sister made these amazing cookies while I was home this past weekend and I couldn’t resist.  I probably ate a dozen of them…maybe I’m exaggerating just a little.

4.  I also made cauliflower pizza crust with my sister this past weekend.  She was in charge of the toppings.  Good thing, since she actually makes things look pretty and tasty. (Hopefully, I’ll be sharing some photos soon.)

5.  My goal is to clean up my act this month and eat cleaner and sleep better, but I’m afraid to actually announce that here because I’m not sure I can or want to be that committed.

6. I’m transitioning to writing one blog, this one, and getting it better organized.  What do you think about the new title format?

7. I like the number seven so I’m going to end here.