Going Paleo Full Bore

Paleo day 1: lunch

I’ve been battling with getting back to a normal/healthy weight for a long time. I hide it well, but at 6’3", I’m constantly dancing between 225 and 230 lbs. Exercize has helped a lot. Last August I was able to get down to 214 lbs for the wedding, but that was an extreme amount of cardio to get there.

We were eating relatively well on the Four Hour Body diet (based on Tim Ferris’ book of the same name) and that did help a lot, but it’s easy to snack and to go for the sugary snacks, especially when they’re constantly around.

In trying the Four Hour Body diet (FHB diet), I discovered that I’m more than just Gluten intolerant. This isn’t a suprise as my brother is a full-blown Celiac and other family members also have issues with gluten. I saw the adverse effects magnified after being gluten-free for a week or two, and then having donuts or something on “binge day,” which is the one day a week you can go wild on the FHB diet.

It manifests itself in a few different ways for me:

  • Physical weakness and fatigure
  • Anxiety (and in some cases, borderline panic attacks)
  • Weakened immune system (especially with regards to upper respiratory infections)
  • Grumpy attitude and demeanor

To counter this I would drink obscene amounts of caffeine. This had it’s own effects and I had cut this to almost nothing after suffering optical anomolies (inability to focus on things, etc).

So, even though I’ve been working out (3x a week crossfit with a trainer and co-workers) and my strength is way up, my weight has sat steadily between 225# and 230#. My percent body fat has not changed dramatically, nor as the donut around my midsection decreased. My shoulders getting broader has helped hide that fact.

Enter the diet

I finally read Robb Woff’s The Paleo Solution on my trip to Austin for RailsConf and was intrigued. I also ate not-so-healthy while on the road (including gluten with an enzyme), and came down with a nice combo upper respiratory strep infection and double ear infection (with a 101 fever) while in Texas.

Enough was enough.

Starting today, the wife and I are going full on Paleo, based on Robb’s menu that he has in The Paleo Solution. We’re going full tilt bore for about 30 days (we have another trip at the end of May) and I expect a combination of feeling better (which I’ve already seen in previous no-gluten bouts), better portion control, and more options in our meals.

So far, the only downside is cost. Buying one week of the menu exactly came out to around $250 at Harris Teeter. Certainly cheaper than eating out, but not exactly budget cooking.

This price pain will be helped by our summer subscription to Bull Run Mountain Farm’s CSA as well as my own gardening efforts on the back porch/balcony and out at the old garden beds at Oatlands Mill and Carter’s Mill Farm with our friends, the Sheltons (who are huge Paleo proponets).

I’m going to track it here as a sort of motivation and also public oversight. Anything to help me stick to it. I’ll do a daily post about what I ate, what exercize I accomplished, where my weight stands, and if we have some receipes, maybe those as well.


Is Junk Food Cheaper? Turns out, not really...

A great op-ed in the New York Times from Mark Bittman today entitled Is Junk Food Really Cheaper? in which he raises a critical point that we (by which I mean the collective of grow-your-own or organic-only foodies) often forget:

But food choices are not black and white; the alternative to fast food is not necessarily organic food, any more than the alternative to soda is Bordeaux. The alternative to soda is water, and the alternative to junk food is not grass-fed beef and greens from a trendy farmers’ market, but anything other than junk food: rice, grains, pasta, beans, fresh vegetables, canned vegetables, frozen vegetables, meat, fish, poultry, dairy products, bread, peanut butter, a thousand other things cooked at home — in almost every case a far superior alternative.

He continues to show the real cost of food and the actual chemical “hyper-addictive” qualities of fast-food. Our neighbors are not suffering solely from bad food choices, but perhaps even from a chemical addiction.

Overconsumption of fast food ‘triggers addiction-like neuroaddictive responses’ in the brain, making it harder to trigger the release of dopamine. In other words the more fast food we eat, the more we need to give us pleasure; thus the report suggests that the same mechanisms underlie drug addiction and obesity.

Just as we came to good food choices over time, we need to remember that to someone who swears by a Big Mac and Fries for lunch every day is not going to easily say “okay, sure, I’ll take a squash!” in short order. In fact, they’ll more than likely clam up like a 6 month old who is quite tired of whatever pureed liver or spinach is being fed to them. But over time, this change can occur to healthier choices that save the person money.

One of the best ways to start the conversion is to discuss the pocket book. It is cheaper to cook at home and make your own coffee and it doesn’t take that much more time if you plan it out. Of course, we’ll probably never convince the Brooklyn Kitchenistas, who use their kitchen as an extension of their closet, to make the change.

Alas, we can’t win them all.

Starting the Balcony Garden

Last spring, after reading The Omnivore’s Dilemma, which came recommended by way of a blog post by Waldo Jaquith, I decided to join a community supported agriculture program here in Northern Virginia run by the Hauter family at Bull Run Farm. Learning to cook with the seasons and trying a variety of new vegetables I’d not had before was quite a rewarding experience.

I had a basil plant that grew to be quite large (3’ tall) and some sage but nothing of a real garden. I decided that this year, it needed to be done up a bit more properly. But lacking more than the 5′×8′ concrete balcony floating 80’ off the ground, I am limited as to how extensive I can make it. But I’m going ot give it a good run for the summer and see how it progresses. I plan to keep extensive track of it via the blog, so apologies to those expecting some wonderful insight to usability or design on a regular basis. For the next few months, the order of the day is… dirt.

The basics were laid last week: an onion that had taken to sprouting on my counter was put into a pot, the Aloe Vera plant transplanted to a larger container, the sage given it’s own pot proper. And today, with the arrival of a variety of heirloom sees, the mini greenhouses have been sown with arugula, basil, lavender, thyme, and carrots. Tomorrow, I’ll plant some various lettuces, radishes, and beans in their pots outside.

I plan to put in tomatoes, lettuce, white eggplant, and squash by next Monday. I have also ordered a dehyhdrator and plan to attempt to do some pressure canning as well (with much direction from Lisa King, I’m sure!)

So, does anyone know of any good self-watering drip irrigation systems that would be deployable on a balcony?