Wednesday, September 30, 2009
1. Why did you accept the challenge, what were your goals going in? (loose weight, gain weight, improve health, improve performance, Improve self discipline, friend/family guilt etc.)
2. Did you reach your goals? (Please be specific here, if you lost weight, how much, how did your health, performance, self discipline improve or decline?)
3. Did the challenge change the way you think about nutrition and if so how?
4. Where there any other revelations during, or as a result of, participating in the challenge? (A couple of random observations from some people were improved vision, and skin condition)
5. Have your eating habits changed as a result of the challenge?
Feel free to answer in the comment section or e-mail us at email@example.com. We would like to hear from everyone to get as true a picture as we can of the experience. Don't hold back, we have thick skin and can handle the truth. We will bring the challenge back, full force, in the spring to help everyone get ready for the summer. Try not to stray too far from clean eating between now and then. We will continue to update the blog, at least twice a week, with the latest info on exercise, nutrition, and recovery.
Also, for those of you who completed the challenge, we would like to get your shirts out to you. If you have not done so already please give us your size. Thanks again,
Paul & Dawn
Friday, September 25, 2009
The night started off easy enough, we decided to try out Bone Fish, it was close to where the kids would be(thanks again Megan) and we had never been there. We also figured it would be pretty easy to stay on track at a seafood restaurant. Two glasses of wine, a strawberry martini, bang bang shrimp, the swordfish special, the talapia special and ,oh yeah, the brownie dessert later, we were wondering what went wrong. It is so easy to say f-it we are on a date night, I deserve it, it's my birthday, it's Friday, etc. and slide down that slippery slope. Afterwards, you end up in the same place, which for us is on the pot.
The funny thing is neither of us wanted the brownie, we just got it because we thought we should. Did it taste incredible? Yes, but that is beside the point. We didn't need, or even want it but we still got it. That speaks to the societal conditioning that we are all fighting as we head out into the real world.
The other funny thing is instead of setting us back it just, strengthened our resolve and desire to stay clean. It's just not worth it, once you have been to the fountain there is no going back.
Let us know how things went for you and how your body responded to opening up your diet, if you did.
Here is a link from Melissa Byers that I have shared before but it is really good and might resonate more now that you have completed the 30 day's. If you have time give it a quick look.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
Some of you have reached your 30 days already and some will get there soon. Either way we want to share a few tips to help you make the most of the past thirty days. As Megan pointed out we have been doing the most strict form of Paleo in an effort to get our bodies and minds back to some sort of baseline. We will use this baseline to help figure out what foods we can handle and which ones give us problems. Some will give us problems, but will be so damn good that they are worth it and some of our former vices will not even interest us any more. The key is to pay close attention to how your body reacts to what you give it and to be patient in how you reintroduce foods that you have been off of for the past month. What we are saying is don't start Tuesday off with cinnamon french toast and a mocha latte, and continue with lunch at Ledo's and big plate of pasta for dinner followed up with Cold stone. I promise you will feel like shit for a couple of days and you will have no idea what made you feel that way.
Decide before hand what you are going to reintroduce and how much. For example, you may decide you are going to give dairy a go. Start with the cream in your coffee and pay close attention to how you feel over the next few hours. No problems? Try out some cheese and again see how you feel. Keep this process up with grains and sugar(but on different days) to see how each of these foods effects you. I(Paul) have found over the last several months that I can handle most dairy, some grains (pizza), and no sugar. This does not mean I will never eat sugar. I just know what the effects will be and plan accordingly. Dawn can't touch dairy, unless she is in close proximity to a bathroom. Everyone is different, you just have to tinker.
Megan also talked about how Paleo provides room for open meals or cheats and I think they are important for many reasons not the least of which is your sanity. You can drive yourself nuts trying to stay strict with any diet. Lori talked about emotional cravings and yes it makes perfect sense. Emotional cravings are harder to deal with than physical ones and last much longer. Two weeks into the challenge most of us were able to overcome our physical cravings for things, but even now 30 days in it's the emotional ones that will trip us up. The triggers are different for everyone and they are sneaky. It could be a familiar smell, place, group of people, or a small ritual that you had with yourself. Be careful of these as you let your guard down in the next few days. If you are dying for something you know is not going to help how you look, feel, and perform, don't have so much of it that it affects the way you look, feel, and perform. You really want ice cream? Go to Maggi Moos and get a small of whatever you want, not to Giant for a gallon to keep in the freezer. Same with pizza. There was a time before kids that Dawn and I would order two large pizzas for the two of us. When the kids came along we contemplated an extra medium for them. If there was any left and there usually wasn't, we would bring it home. Now pizza nights will be one large pizza, two slices each, and that is it. The point is try to work with those emotional cravings and rather than against them and only have enough to satisfy the craving. You will be in a much better place physically and mentally.
Please do not discount the mental strength it took for you to complete this challenge. The growth from that alone makes it all worth it. How often do we practice self denial? Without getting too deep, we live in a society of instant gratification and it would do us all good to give up something we think we have to have. It is empowering.
We were also glad to hear that so many of you were happy you got involved in the challenge and we appreciate your thanks. We were unsure if we would have friends at the end of this. We have found something that has made a positive impact on all aspects of our life and are passionate about sharing it. We have also found out that we like to blog (More me than Dawn, but Dawn does proof everything and makes additions and subtractions) so much so that this blog will continue. Our focus for the next month will be on exercise. If you would like to continue to get the e-mails please opt-in in the comment section. Everyone hates excessive e-mails and we will not make you opt-out, so if you would like to hear our ramblings on exercise leave us a comment.
Our last assignment for you is to take out that camera you used for the picture at the beginning of the challenge. If possible wear the same thing you had on the first time and stand in the same place to take your after pic. Compare the two and share with us what you think. Also tell us, what you got out out of this challenge? What is your plan going forward? and What is your first open/cheat going to be? We are going to hold out for pizza this weekend and I agree wine is a good thing.
Thanks to all, we really enjoyed it! Don't forget to leave your shirt size in the comments and your address if we do not see you on a regular basis. Your fabulous prize will be coming soon.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Check out the video posted on the left of the page. It helps explain the processes on a cellular level that go into making us retain fat. As I was surfing the Internet the other night, I came across a post from a CrossFit gym in Clakamass Oregon. The person posting had just finished Good Calories Bad Calories, the book I have been working my way through for the past year. Turns out Taubes, the author, provides a ten point summary at the end of the book. I will still continue to work my way through because of it's ability to cure my insomnia, but wanted to share with you his conclusions. The whole book is a through review of all of the research done in the field of nutrition over the past 40 years, which is surprising little. Based on his synthesis of the research Gary Taubes has concluded the following:
As I emerge from this research, though, certain conclusions seem inescapable to me, based on the existing knowledge:
1. Dietary fat, whether saturated or not, is not the cause of obesity, heart disease, or any other chronic disease of civilization.
2. The problem is the carbohydrates in the diet, their effect on insulin secretion, and thus the hormonal regulation of homeostasis — the entire harmonic ensemble of the human body. The more easily digestible and refined the carbohydrates, the greater the effect on our health, weight, and well-being.
3. Sugars — sucrose and high fructose corn syrup specifically — are particularly harmful, probably because the combination of fructose and glucose simultaneously elevates insulin levels while overloading the liver with carbohydrates.
4. Through their direct effect on insulin and blood sugar, refined carbohydrates, starches, and sugars are the dietary cause of coronary heart disease and diabetes. They are most likely dietary causes of cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and the other chronic diseases of civilization.
5. Obesity is a disorder of excess fat accumulation, not overeating, and not sedentary behavior
6. Consuming excess calories does not cause us to grow fatter, any more than it causes a child to grow taller. Expending more energy than we consume does not lead to long term weight loss; it leads to hunger.
7. Fattening and obesity are caused by an imbalance — a disequilibrium — in the hormonal regulation of adipose tissue and fat metabolism. Fat synthesis and storage exceed the mobilization of fat from the adipose tissue and its subsequent oxidation. We become leaner when the hormonal regulation of the fat tissue reverses this balance.
8. Insulin is the primary regulator of fat storage. When insulin levels are elevated — either chronically or after a meal — we accumulate fat in our fat tissue. When insulin levels fall, we release fat from our fat tissue and use it for fuel.
9. By stimulating insulin secretion, carbohydrates make us fat and ultimately cause obesity. The fewer carbohydrates we consume, the leaner we will be.
10. By driving fat accumulation, carbohydrates also increase hunger and decrease the amount of energy we expend in metabolism and physical activity.
What is mind blowing about this is that we still have doctors today who will prescribe a high carbohydrate low fat diet for their patients.
Have a great weekend and take some time to think about if you have really made a life change or if you are just hanging on until you can get your next fix of carbs.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
Above is a picture of two of the dozen or so black Angus cows that are beefing up on the grass of our neighbors ranch. We have dibs on one of them and a hog that will go to slaughter in early October. This is our first time buying meat this way but as we progress down this paleo road to optimum nutrition it seems to be a natural step. In our evolution to full on crunchiness(all we need now is a Subaru, or Volvo and a couple more canvas bags) our latest focus has been on the quality of the meat we are eating.
After reading Omnivore's Dilemma, we began to question the quality of the meat we were eating and watching the movie Food Inc. was the final push we needed to seek alternative sources of meat. Fate lent a hand in that we moved next door to a grass fed beef ranch and now we have committed to buying a whole cow and a pig next month. We have a couple of families going in with us on it and are open to anyone else who would like to jump in the mix. The beef will be butchered into steaks, roasts, fillets, and ground beef. The organ meats are available as well, but other than my buddy Pat wanting the tongue for crabbing, I am not sure anyone wants them.
What's the difference between grass fed and grain fed beef? I am going to stay away from the environmental and ethical problems that surround the issue except to say that in the short history of feedlot production of cows,CAFO's(concentrated animal feeding operations) have produced enormous environmental and health problems. Polluted water and air, toxic wastes, and deadly pathogens. Pastured cows that feed on grass take anywhere from 3 to 5 years to reach a slaughter weight of around 1100 pounds. Feed lot cows go from 80 to 1100 pounds in fourteen months. This process is made possible with a tremendous amount of corn, protein, fat supplements, and numerous drugs.
For the purposes of me getting that all important sleep, we are going to focus just on the nutritional differences between grass fed and grain fed beef.
Health Benefits of Grass-Fed Products
Meat, eggs, and dairy products from pastured animals are ideal for your health. Compared with commercial products, they offer you more "good" fats, and fewer "bad" fats. They are richer in antioxidants; including vitamins E, beta-carotene, and vitamin C. Furthermore, they do not contain traces of added hormones, antibiotics, or other drugs.
Meat from grass-fed cattle, sheep, and bison is lower in total fat. If the meat is very lean, it can have one third as much fat as a similar cut from a grain-fed animal. Grass-fed beef can have the same amount of fat as skinless chicken breast, wild deer, or elk. Research shows that lean beef actually lowers your "bad" LDL cholesterol levels.
Because meat from grass-fed animals is lower in fat than meat from grain-fed animals, it is also lower in calories. (Fat has 9 calories per gram, compared with only 4 calories for protein and carbohydrates. The greater the fat content, the greater the number of calories.) As an example, a 6-ounce steak from a grass-finished steer can have 100 fewer calories than a 6-ounce steak from a grain-fed steer. If you eat a typical amount of beef (66.5 pounds a year), switching to lean grass fed beef will save you 17,733 calories a year—without requiring any willpower or change in your eating habits.
Meat from grass-fed animals has two to four times more omega-3 fatty acids than meat from grain- fed animals. Omega-3s are called "good fats" because they play a vital role in every cell and system in your body. For example, of all the fats, they are the most heart-friendly. People who have ample amounts of omega-3s in their diet are less likely to have high blood pressure or an irregular heartbeat. Remarkably, they are 50 percent less likely to suffer a heart attack. Omega-3s are essential for your brain as well. People with a diet rich in omega-3s are less likely to suffer from depression, schizophrenia, attention deficit disorder (hyperactivity), or Alzheimer's disease.
Another benefit of omega-3s is that they may reduce your risk of cancer. In animal studies, these essential fats have slowed the growth of a wide array of cancers and also kept them from spreading. Although the human research is in its infancy, researchers have shown that omega-3s can slow or even reverse the extreme weight loss that accompanies advanced cancer and also hasten recovery from surgery.
Omega-3s are most abundant in seafood and certain nuts and seeds such as flaxseeds and walnuts, but they are also found in animals raised on pasture. The reason is simple. Omega-3s are formed in the chloroplasts of green leaves and algae. Sixty percent of the fatty acids in grass are omega-3s. When cattle are taken off omega-3 rich grass and shipped to a feedlot to be fattened on omega-3 poor grain, they begin losing their store of this beneficial fat. Each day that an animal spends in the feedlot, its supply of omega-3s is diminished.
The CLA Bonus. Meat and dairy products from grass-fed ruminants are the richest known source of another type of good fat called "conjugated linoleic acid" or CLA. When ruminants are raised on fresh pasture alone, their products contain from three to five times more CLA than products from animals fed conventional diets.(A steak from the most marbled grass-fed animals will have the most CLA ,as much of the CLA is stored in fat cells.)
CLA may be one of our most potent defenses against cancer. In laboratory animals, a very small percentage of CLA—a mere 0.1 percent of total calories—greatly reduced tumor growth. There is new evidence that CLA may also reduce cancer risk in humans. In a Finnish study, women who had the highest levels of CLA in their diet, had a 60 percent lower risk of breast cancer than those with the lowest levels.
Vitamin E. In addition to being higher in omega-3s and CLA, meat from grassfed animals is also higher in vitamin E. The meat from the pastured cattle is four times higher in vitamin E than the meat from the feedlot cattle and, interestingly, almost twice as high as the meat from the feedlot cattle given vitamin E supplements. In humans, vitamin E is linked with a lower risk of heart disease and cancer. This potent antioxidant may also have anti-aging properties. Most Americans are deficient in vitamin E.
Score Ten for Grass-Fed Beef
Grass-fed beef is better for human health than grain-fed beef in ten different ways, according to the most comprehensive analysis to date. The 2009 study was a joint effort between the USDA and researchers at Clemson University in South Carolina. Compared with grain-fed beef, grass-fed beef was:
Lower in total fat
Higher in beta-carotene
Higher in vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)
Higher in the B-vitamins thiamin and riboflavin
Higher in the minerals calcium, magnesium, and potassium
Higher in total omega-3s
A healthier ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids (1.65 vs 4.84)
Higher in CLA (cis-9 trans-11), a potential cancer fighter
Higher in vaccenic acid (which can be transformed into CLA)
Lower in the saturated fats linked with heart disease
S.K. Duckett et al, Journal of Animal Science, (published online) June 2009
So there you have it, just the nutritional reasons why grass fed is so much better. Let us know how your weekend went and if you have any interest in our cow. Have a great week!
Jim and Lori thanks for the comments on the sleep post. Lori, naps can be an effective way to recharge and help with the mental fatigue that comes with sleep deprivation, but the physiological effects on fat storage are only effected by large amounts of uninterrupted sleep. We struggle with the same need to fit it all in, work, kids, business, me time, us time, etc. I have found that thinking of it in terms of a cost benefit thing instead of just mental toughness allows me to make better decisions. Will the enjoyment of 8 or so beers over the next few hours be worth three days of feeling like shit? Is the loss of my golf ball, and subsequent 8 on the score card worth the feel of a well hit drive? Will staying up late finishing up a paper for school be worth not being able to function the next day? Sometimes the answer is yes and sometimes it's no, but I know going in that it is a decision I am making and I avoid beating myself up about it and move on.
Friday, September 11, 2009
How much are you getting and what is the quality of the sleep you are getting? If you are like most of the western world, 5 hours seems to be the norm and it is looked upon like a merit badge if you can function on less. But the truth is the price you are paying for this perceived efficiency is high and the time that is saved by cutting sleep is often paid back in the form of disease. Several studies have shown how quickly sleep deprivation effects just about every bodily system and can contribute to stress, inflammation, cancer, heart disease, and diabetes.
Most people know this and somehow on their cost/benefit analysis still think it's worth it. Let me add one more component that may sway the scale. Lack of sleep has a strong link to an individuals ability to lose body fat. More specifically ongoing sleep deprivation has been linked to increased body fat retention and obesity. I found the following scale in an article on the web site Mercola.
The recommended amount of sleep per night is seven to nine hours; however, most Americans average somewhere around six. Researchers found that the further away one is from getting the recommended hours of sleep, the higher their risk of obesity is.
Lack of Sleep and the Obesity Connection
Less than four hours: 73 percent risk
Five hours of sleep: 50 percent risk
Six hours of sleep: 23 percent risk
A quick google search will provide you with study after study showing that lack of sleep leads to insulin resistance, decreased leptin levels (leptin is a blood protein that suppresses the appetite and helps the brain sense when you are full) and increased cortisol levels (an ugly stress hormone that among other bad things increases blood sugar). All of these processes combine to lock fat into your cells and prevent you from shedding fat and using it as an energy source.
What can you do about it? Treat sleep the same way you treat your diet. It is almost as important. Set a time to get into bed that will allow for, at the very least, 7 hours of sleep, preferably more. Make your bedroom a cool dark sanctuary. There should be only two things going on in your bed, sleep and sex. Watching TV, in bed, is a huge hindrance to deep sleep. Get all electrical and lighted devices away from your bed. When the lights are off, you should not be able to see your hand in front of your face. We bought some "blackout" shades for our room and the kids room. They block out the sunlight and help keep the room dark in the morning. Find a routine that settles your mind. Dawn has an amazing ability to fall asleep seemingly seconds after her head hits the pillow. I need to read for a while to settle my mind. I have been reading a nutrition book called Good Calories, Bad Calories for the past year. It is interesting,but reads like a VCR manual. I average about two pages a night before my eyes slam shut. If you do read make sure the reading is not stimulating. Try to standardize your schedule. If you have to get up at 5am during the week, try to make your wake-up time during the weekend not stray too far from that. Sleeping in late on the weekends will reset your circadian rhythms and have you playing catch up till Wednesday of the next week. The last few tips most of you probably already know. No "black" coffee or any caffeinated drinks late in the day. Alcohol really screws with the sleep cycle, and again late night TV stimulates the brain and makes it harder to get to sleep.
Everyone is getting so good at eating Paleo we thought you could handle one more thing to worry about. Let us know how your week went and what your current sleep numbers are(hours per night). Our next post we will discuss the cow in our back yard, that will soon be in our freezer.
I have to apologize for the late post, but as I sat down at 10:30 last night and started working on a post I realized I was not following my own advise and decided to call it a night and get some sleep.
Monday, September 7, 2009
It is officially weigh in time, that means all of you who have been weighing in every day, can now tell us the results. We have had some reports of people not losing weight who are trying to. This can happen. When your body senses a sudden change to the way you are eating, it's first instinct is to store fat. This usually fixes itself in a couple of days unless you are either severely calorie restricted or low on water consumption or both. So if you are trying to lose weight and not having much success, increase your calories and your water consumption. Assuming your calories are all clean, paleo foods, don't worry about how much you are eating(Lori has had experience with this). For water intake you are shooting for an ounce of water per pound of body weight as a minimum. Those of you happy with your weight, just not the placement of it, focus on your clothes and how they fit as a sign you are headed in the right direction. We will have you in those "goal" pants you have had hanging in your closet for a few years in no time.
We had a suggestion from a fellow challenge member(Jim) to put up a book list and we have done so, over on the right. He is reading "In Defense of Food" by Michale Pollan and finds the knowledge of where your food comes from and what happened to our food supply and rituals surrounding eating, a motivational tool to continue this eating as a way of life. We had much the same experience. We started by going to a nutrition seminar back in November. That started our obsession and we have since read all that we can and continue to educate ourselves on the power of real food. As a way of motivating and informing anyone who cares to be motivated and informed we are going to do a sort of Oprah's Book Club. We are going to reread "In Defense of Food" and include what we find interesting as we read in our future postings. You are welcome to join us. Last time I checked you could get the book for $9 from amazon. We will start including this in the blogs next week.
We had a great visit with Kim today who is one of the rock stars of this challenge so far. She has made the mental leap that I hope we all do by the end of this challenge. Kim was relaying a story about her experience this weekend at a party where she brought her own food and refused an offering of some tasty treat. The person offering the treat said something to the effect of when your done with that diet you can have some. Kim's response was what we are hoping for out of everyone. "I'm not on a diet, this is how I am eating from now on." "I like it and it makes me feel good." That is a huge leap. My mind was on several different things and I didn't even pick up on it at the time, but that is huge. I can't emphasize that enough, this is not a diet! It is a conscious decision to put better things into your body in order to get better things out. You can lose weight, gain weight, get off statins, reverse type 2 diabetes, improve blood pressure, etc. Just by giving your body what it was intended to eat. Alright, off my soapbox. I just get frustrated when what we are trying to do gets lumped in as one of those fad diets. There are several other challenge members out there who either have made or are on the cusp of making that same leap. Just beware there are many haters out there and they will try to take you down.
One last thing, Dawn and I are competing in the Mid Atlantic Hopper Challenge , a fitness competition, on Oct. 17th in Glen Burnie Md. We would love to have a strong cheering section. Anyone who would like to come out and support us, there is a $15 spectator fee. This includes a free lunch and all proceeds are going to the Wounded Warrior Project. The registration deadline is Sept 30th. Tickets day of are $20 and no lunch.
Let us know how your weekend went and how you are looking, feeling, and performing, 15 days into the challenge. See you on Friday.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
We are 12 days in, only three more days to the half way point and the weigh in. We are pretty certain that no one listened to our order of giving up the scale, but that's OK, as long as you are not a slave to it and making decisions based on what the scale says.
We are heading into a tough three day weekend. There will be many celebrations to mark the end of summer and with celebrations come dips, cakes, sodas, chips, beer etc. Stay strong! Many of you are getting to the point where passing on those things is becoming second nature. Don't let your guard down. One fresh baked chocolate chip cookie can send you on a three day Dunkin Donuts rampage and have you hating yourself and feeling like dung for the next week. Remember cookouts can be your friend, what is more paleo than raw meat fired up on the grill. Find some vegetables and some nuts and you are good to go.
Megan asked a good question about pre/post workout nutrition. Real quickly the post workout meal is where you want to get the bulk of your carbs for the day and even squeeze in some of that yummy fruit. After working out the body makes use of a process called non-insulin mediated glucose uptake, which simply means the body's cells can get glucose out of the blood without insulin. This process helps to avoid the large hormone swings that are associate with high blood sugar and insulin's response. What should a post workout meal look like? Just like every other meal you eat except for more carbohydrates. It does not have to be a whole meal, a snack will do, but make sure it is consumed as quickly after a workout as possible, the process starts to fade after 30 minutes and ends an hour post workout. The pre-workout meal varies greatly depending on your tolerance for food and when you workout. Experimentation is best here for finding out what works for you.
You may have noticed that we have not addressed the exercise issue yet. We will, but we want your focus to be on cleaning up the diet. If you can fit workouts in as well, good on you, but the eating should be the priority. Poor nutrition will overwhelm any amount of working out and quickly. We will get more into exercise and nutrition later on in the month.
Leave us some comments on how your week went and strategies you plan on using to avoid the temptation of the holiday weekend splurge. Good luck and we will check in on Monday night.