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.  

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.



Why Organic Food…

**Note: I use the term organic because that’s what most people are familiar with.  When I say organic, I mean foods that are grown naturally without chemical pesticides and harsh treatment.  This includes naturally grown foods and other food designations that encompass this method of food cultivation.**

A lot of people like to write off organic food as overpriced nonsense that the bourgeoisie like to use as a status symbol.  While the use of organic food as a status symbol may be true, organic food is not BS, as one of the physicians I worked with declared one morning.  The reasoning was that if food was all grown organically, the world’s population would starve and that we wouldn’t have gotten to this place in the first place.  That sort of unthinking declaration made me really mad.  I considered responding with a persuasive argument, but as the absolute lowest person on the totem pole, I had nothing to really gain from trying to educate someone who was going to insist that organic food is nothing but a scam.

Organic food is hardly a scam.  Sure, considering the types of things that tend to harm people first, the distinction between organic and conventional food is low priority.  Most of the people I see in the hospital have other more pressing issues to resolve – substance abuse, poverty, gun shot wounds, infection, heart disease.

Organic food does make a difference though.  Organic food means food grown without heavy chemicals.  I have a farmer friend who told me that pesticides were really not too big of a concern for the consumer because most of it is broken down by the time the food reaches the consumer.  The bigger problem was the farm workers who applied pesticides.  Those were the people who got all the ill effects of pesticides.  While on a macro level, this might be true, I imagine that on a microscopic level, that whatever is left of pesticides on foods is not good.  Not to mention that foods grown in an unnatural state tend not to be very nutritious.  (If you want better researched and thought out information on this, click on the links at the bottom of this post.)

If you’ve ever grown your own garden or had organic food from your local farmer’s market, I’m telling you organic makes a difference.  Same goes for “organic” meat.  This past Thanksgiving, I debated the merits of hauling a free-range, organically fed turkey home to my family or just going the easy route and letting them buy a turkey locally.  (I’m sure there are free range, organically-fed turkeys where my family is, but I don’t know where to get one.)  After a lot of back and forth, I bought a turkey and packed it in the trunk of my car with 18 pounds of ice and drove home to my family hoping that the turkey wouldn’t go bad.  The effort paid off.  Everyone raved about how the turkey was the best they had ever had.  Of course, while we can’t discount the role that my sister’s amazing culinary chops had in making a tasty turkey, I have to say, the turkey was exceptionally good.

I know my Thanksgiving tale is just one example, but I can tell the difference between organic foods and conventional foods.  The taste is different and all of a sudden those vegetables and meats that I choked down before are actually appealing to me.  Organic foods also means humane treatment of animals, healthier farm workers, and happier people overall.  I think that’s a pretty picture that I want to be a part of.

Yes, organic food is more expensive, but if you can afford it, why not treat your body to the best that nature has to offer?  Why not support the farmers who are out there trying to make a difference?  Sure, there are big commercial organic farms.  I try to buy local and organic before resorting to commercially grown organic food, but even that is better than the alternative – a world filled with toxins where there are people getting sick and exposed to pesticides just so you can eat.

I might be cynical about a lot of things, but you can taste the difference in your food and that alone is worth eating organic.  Local and organic is even better, but the local foods discussion is another discussion for another time.

Finally, for some intelligent and coherent discussions on organic foods, read the recent bunch of articles posted by Mark Sisson over at Mark’s Daily Apple:

What do you think about organic food?

Life and Other Things Like It

I just spent the last hour or so reading the articles off The Primalist’s regular round up of links, aptly named Primalisms.  I was a particular fan of the last article in the list about a group of long living people in Greece.  The article gave me a lot to think about.

For one thing, in this country (and I mean the U.S. for all the international readers out there) we chase after “cures.”  Have a problem?  Fix that problem.  We often forget to look at the underlying reasons for that symptom.  Sometimes we go looking for the reason why and find it.  When we don’t, medicine likes to dump it into the broad category of unknowns called “idiopathic.”

There is still so much we can’t explain and I’m not saying that calling things idiopathic is wrong.  I’m saying that if something is idiopathic, then we need to look at more than just that one symptom.  What else is going on with that person?  What else can we improve about the way that person is going about life?

This is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.  A small piece of the puzzle that needs fixing.  I could go on and on about what need to change in medicine, but today’s discussion is a bit more broad.

So, there is that issue of when you have a problem, we only fix that problem and not anything else.  Medicine often neglects to address things like lifestyle, nutrition, exercise, and the like.  Those are the exact things that rise to the surface when various researchers and studies look at populations of long-living people.

Could I live like those long living people here in the U.S.?  Maybe.  Would my life be better if I could? Definitely.  It would be a huge mental shift.  The thing is that all the things that give these populations longevity are things that feel good.  Think about it.  Hanging with your friends and doing social things feels good.  Being out in the great outdoors feels good.  Waking up when you want to and not to an alarm feels good.

We’ve forgotten what really feels good.  In the U.S., rugged individualism is the name of the game.  We like our separate houses and our privacy.  We schedule social time and limit the time we do it.  We take pride is how much more stressful and hectic our life is compared to the next person.  On and on.  And while we’re doing all this, we’re having uncontrolled high blood pressure, diabetes, and a whole host of other maladies.

This is what I know.  In the last couple of weeks, I’ve noticed that on days when I can get up closer to when the sun is rising, I feel a lot happier in the morning and it’s easier to get out of bed.  The days when I have to get up hours before the sun is a lot harder even if I’ve had just as much or even more sleep.  Doesn’t feel as nice.  During my down time I crave socialization.  I never really had that sort of craving before, but maybe now that I’m more in tune with myself I feel it more.  Of course, the problem with my craving socialization is that everyone else is busy being “too busy.”

And therein lies the problem.

I just wanted to throw some thoughts out there and get everyone thinking.  Go read the article and let me know what you think.

The Blahs

I’m having a bad case of the blahs.  I blame the suddenly 50 degree temperatures that started right after it was 80 degrees, I blame the shorter and shorter days, and I blame the fact that I haven’t gotten my blah self cooking nutritious foods or going to the gym.  I did go rollerblading on Sunday when it was freakily 70 degrees outside, but other than that and a short stint at the gym 1.5 weeks ago, I haven’t done much.  This all from the girl who burned herself out a couple years ago going to the gym 2 – 3 times a day in an effort to be “healthy.”  Yup, I’m a woman of extremes.

I’m writing this post to declare my war on the blahs.  I’ve got to do something before I end up staying in bed all day and feeling sorrier and sorrier for myself.  The blahs will do that to a person.

  1. Pick something to do in the morning that I want to do.  This has been my go to strategy when I dread getting out of bed in the mornings…right now, that’s where I’m at.  It takes me the better part of an hour to convince myself to get out of bed and then I move slowly and have to rush to work.  Not cool.  There isn’t much to do at 5 am, but the gym I belong to right now is 24 hours during the week, so that’s where I’m heading when I get up in the morning.  Now I just have to remember that I actually do like going to the gym.  The blahs can really hit you hard sometimes.
  2. Sit in front of my happy lamp.  A  couple of years ago, I was really depressed during the winter.  The cold snowy north does me no favors when combined with my long hours and indoors all day work.  The goal is to do this in the morning so I don’t end up being unable to sleep at night.
  3. Pay attention to my feelings.  I tend to be the kind of person who doesn’t want to feel my feelings, more so when I’m having the blahs.  So, some journaling (preferably in front of the happy lamp) to get those feelings out instead of bottled up would be nice.
  4. Get outside.  When I’m having the blahs, I don’t want to go outside.  Throw in some 50 degree weather and you’ll find me sitting at home in my sweats watching online TV while stuffing myself with yet more eggs because I don’t feel like cooking.
  5. Actually cook meals.  Speaking of cooking, I need to cook.  I need to stop the carb-ing with the white rice, which I’ve been doing for far too long now, and get back to eating lots of vegetables.  Right now I’m feeling veggie averse even though I know I feel much better when I eat a lot of vegetables.  It just seems like a lot of effort right now to cook and eat lots of vegetables.  Don’t ask me about the reasoning behind that one.
  6. Connect with people.  Right now, I’m feeling pretty disconnected.  My best friends are far away and have been for some time now.  It’s been harder lately to catch up with them regularly because we’re all running around with crazy schedules.  Throw in a time difference and we’re barely making time to catch up once a month.  I also have an awesome pen pal that I’ve been neglecting, so I need to get on writing some letters to her.  Maybe it’s also time to throw a housewarming party.

I’m sure there are a million other things that I could/should be doing to battle the blahs, but let’s start with these, shall we?

What do other people do to battle the blahs?

Happy Dance

I had to share with everyone that I’m getting a new phone.  I try not to spend a lot of money on technology, but this time around, I very much need a new phone.  My poor abused phone is getting slower and slower and more and more unhappy, so it’s time to retire it and get a new one.

After much hunting around and waiting, I finally managed to snag one and will hopefully be picking it up tomorrow.  So excited!

This is well timed excitement as I’m fighting off a head cold and feeling rather miserable.

All right, I’m done doing my happy dance and sharing my glee with the world.  I’ll be back sometime soon with those reviews of the makeup that I promised and other posts.  I have a whole list of ideas that I want to make into posts, so stay tuned!