New Years Resolutions

Based on previous years’ lack of success keeping my new years resolutions, I’m going with one that’s impossible not to keep.  This year my new years’ resolution is to not make new years’ resolutions.  Ignoring the obvious logical problem with that previous sentence, this will make 2017 the year that I don’t fail to keep my resolutions.

Continue reading “New Years Resolutions”

A Step in the Right Direction

Confession time: I’ve been struggling with being overweight for nearly 20 years.  For the last 10 or so I’ve been over 100kg, something I’ve been extremely unhappy about.  I did manage to get down under 100kg for a few months when I was trying to eat paleo, but events conspired to make that hard to maintain, so I never persisted.  In the mean time I continued to put on weight.

My health issues late last year were a big wake up call, and I’ve been trying to get my weight back under control.  I’ve had a bit of success, thanks to being much more careful with my diet, but I still ended up with my weight refusing to go lower than 105kg.  Then, a while back, a friend posted on Facebook that they’d lost 50kg in the last year using the 5:2 diet. Continue reading “A Step in the Right Direction”

Archevore Diet – Stage 1

Last week I posted about the Archevore Diet, and how I planned to follow it.  It’s a bit over a week since I posted, and the experience so far has been rather different to what I expected.  The first stage is to deal with any non food addictions, and get good sleep.

When I first thought about it, I had a mixed reaction.  The addiction part was going to be easy, I don’t smoke or do drugs, and I rarely drink more than one drink every day or so.  Sleep, on the other hand, I knew was going to be a problem, after all I’m a father of a new born, not getting enough sleep is part of the territory there.

However, I’ve discovered that things aren’t always as they seem.  For starters, I’d thought that the sleep and addictions were two separate problems, but it turns out (at least for me) that the two are intertwined a bit.  What I hadn’t taken into account was computers and me.

Now, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I have an all out addiction to computers, technology and the Internet, but I do like using them.  And while I don’t get the shakes if I can’t check my email, it was pointed out to me during the week that I tend to sit down at the computer as a bit of a default response if I have nothing to do.  So, while I can live without the computer, I do tend to use it quite a bit.

The sleep issue is quite simple, you can’t have a new born and not have an interrupted night’s sleep.  The thing is, I don’t see this as such an insurmountable problem now.  Firstly, there is such a thing as Polyphasic Sleep, which is basically a fancy way of saying that you sleep several times a day, rather than just once.  The most hard-core version of this uses six short naps every four hours, but there are other easier to follow methods.

What’s interesting about polyphasic sleep is that research has suggested that humans probably evolved to use polyphasic sleep, in particular a kind called Segmented SleepStudies have shown that if humans are left to use only natural light, their sleep pattern changes to a distinct pattern of sleeping for a few hours, followed by an hour or so of wakefulness, followed by another few hours of sleep.

So, I can use this to my advantage.  I don’t have to get a solid 8 hours’ sleep (in fact, I probably shouldn’t, even), I can get away with several shorter sleeps, as long as I just get enough.  This is where the computer use pops its head up again.

It’s all well and good to say that I’ll have a nap, get up and feed the baby, and then get some more sleep, but the computer complicates things.  It’s quite noticeable that I find it harder to fall asleep after using the computer.  It makes sense, all that light from the monitor is going to make my body think it’s day time, rather than night, with subsequent difficulties sleeping.

I was already aware of this issue, and had installed a utility on my computer which changes the colour temperature of the display based on the time of day.  To be honest, it works quite well, but it can’t help with the demands of keeping a new born baby happy.  So, I’ll be limiting my computer use before I want to sleep in an attempt to get a better amount of sleep.

I’m feeling hopeful that a reduction in computer use, and a concerted effort to take a nap between feeds of an evening will help me get stage one of the Archevore diet sorted out.  The next stage will be harder, cutting out sugar, and caloric drinks.  I’m fully expecting to struggle with sugar, as I think it’s probably the worst, and hardest addiction to kick.

The Winds of Change…

It’s 5 months to the day since my last post, and boy have things changed for me.  My wife and I have moved out of our house and are preparing to sell it, we’ve had a baby boy, and in the process have spent a lot of time in and out of hospital.  I don’t think I could have predicted any of this happening (well, except for the baby, we’ve known about that since early in the year…).

One thing that has to change for me is my lifestyle.  I promised myself that I’d try and live healthy when our baby arrived.  Well, actually I promised my self I’d be living healthy before he arrived, but with all the stuff we’ve been dealing with over the last few months that went out the window.  Regardless, we have a new baby, and I want to be able to keep up with him in a few years time, so that means getting healthy now, no excuses.

A couple of years ago I discovered The Primal Blueprint, and some good success losing weight and getting fitter following it.   Unfortunately for me I went off the rails about a year ago, and have been struggling to get back to eating the way I want to.  I’ve still been reading about Primal/Paleo diets, and one site I found was Archevore.  The Archevore Diet is the brainchild of Kurt Harris MD, and is essentially a Paleo diet, but approached through a series of steps.

The twelve stages of the Archevore Diet are as follows:
1. Get plenty of sleep and deal with any non-food addictions.
2. Eliminate sugar and all caloric drinks.
3. Eliminate gluten grains and wheat flour.
4. Eliminate seed oils
5. No snacking, 2 or 3 meals a day is best.
6. Whole foods from animals.
7. Choose fuels from the EM2.
8. Make sure you are Vitamin D replete.
9. Vegetables and fruits
10. Get proper exercise
11. Avoid eating excessive amounts of fruit.
12. If you are allergic to milk protein or concerned about theoretical risks of casein, you can stick to butter and avoid milk, cream and soft cheeses.

This approach appeals to me as it sounds like it will make changing my lifestyle easier to manage.  I think part of the problem I’ve had in the past has simply been the magnitude of the changes required to follow a Paleo diet.  With this step by step idea, I can deal with the changes in smaller increments.

So, as of today, I’m starting the process of changing my lifestyle.  As I tackle each step I’ll post it up here, along with any progress reports between steps.

Word of the Day: Akrasia

A few weeks back I learned a new word: akrasia, thanks to this article on Mark’s Daily Apple.  Akrasia means to act against your own better judgement, something I’ve had a rather painful lesson about recently.  Last week, for the first time in 12 months, I decided to go for a mountain bike ride.

Now, I wasn’t expecting to just be able to jump back on my bike and ride around like I used to, but I was not prepared for how much I suffered on what was quite a short ride.  Apparently I’ve got quite unfit over the last year (and also, my MTB skills now suck even more than they did before…).  Well, I guess that was to be expected, I haven’t exactly been doing a lot of exercise and haven’t been riding off road at all.

The article on akrasia was still fresh in my mind, and I began to think of all the little things that I’d been doing that were hurting my health and fitness.  Let’s start with breakfast.  Normally we wouldn’t have bread in the house, but we’ve had some for toast for my wife.  Of course, being the enlightened person I am, I know that bread isn’t the best thing to be eating, breakfast or not, so of course, I’d stick to either a smoothie or bacon and eggs, wouldn’t I?  Of course not, otherwise I wouldn’t be writing this post.

There’s something about toast for breakfast that just calls to me.  Perhaps it’s just 30 years of brainwashing, but if there’s bread in the house, then without fail I’ll be having toast for breakfast.  And what’s worse, I won’t be topping it with scrambled eggs, no, I’ll slather it with jam that is jam-packed (sorry…) with sugar.  A breakfast like that is just setting myself up to fail.

I normally manage to do a bit better with lunch, and I normally have something healthy, but of course, with such a carb laden breakfast, by the time lunch rolls around, I’m getting cravings for carbs, and I have been succumbing to the temptation to indulge in some sort of sugary snack during the afternoon.  The same thing then happens around tea time, and results in me having some sort of snack during the night.  All of this snacking etc has been adding up, of course, and is why I’m in such poor shape now.

What I’m finding interesting is my reaction to this knowledge.  I’m aware that I’ve been making bad decisions, I’m painfully aware of the effect those decisions have been having on my life, and I have a better understanding of why I’ve been making those bad decisions.  I guess the question is whether or not this knowledge is gong to be of any help in changing my lifestyle.

The good thing is that since this minor revelation, I’ve been consciously trying to make better decisions about my food and exercise.  I’m not having toast for breakfast every day any more, I’m riding my bike places rather than driving.  Apparently this is having a positive effect, as when I weighed myself this week on a whim, I’d lost 3 kilos.  The challenge now is to keep this positive trend going, and not to crash in a big heap if something derails me along the way.

Could You?

“Could you accept yourself overweight?”  This was a question asked on the Daily Apple forums recently.  The original question was posted by a person who had no significant weight issues during their life (lucky bastard…)  Quite a number of the responses came from the same view point, that of someone who had never really had any significant weight issues.

For the most part, regardless of whether or not people had battled with their weight, response was mostly “No, I could not accept my self overweight”.  A couple said they’d be able to accept themselves overweight only if they were healthy at the same time.

It’s funny, but I can’t really remember a time where I didn’t think of myself as being overweight.  When I was around 9 or 10 I put on a little weight prior to a growth spurt.  Kids being kids can’t resist making fun of an easy target, and the fat kid was always an easy target.  So, I became convinced that I was fat, a perception that has pretty much stuck with me ever since.

Anyway, I was going through some old photos with my beloved fiancé recently, and I was surprised by how damn skinny I was back then, compared to me now.  It’s amazing how our perceptions of ourselves can become skewed.  Right now I feel justified in feeling fat, as I’m about 30kg overweight, but that wasn’t always the case.

So, perhaps the lesson today is that I shouldn’t accept myself overweight as I have for so many years.  Or, perhaps more importantly, I shouldn’t accept myself unhealthy.  It’s an unfortunate fact that I’m terribly out of shape right now, compared to what I used to be.

I’d like to think that I’ll be around for many years with my family, and I’d like to think that I could be healthy and active, instead of plagued by illness.  So, perhaps the time is right to stand up and say “No, I will not accept this, I will do some thing to be healthier, and I will lose all this extra weight I’m carrying.”  After all, what do I have to lose, other than some extra weight, and the chance of an early death through heart disease?

Oh Bread, How I’ve Missed You…

I’d just like to get this out in the open right now: I love bread.  Bread is probably the one thing that can tempt me away from eating primally.  It’s the one thing I really regret that I can’t eat.  I used to love nothing more than a nice egg and bacon roll.

I’ve tried a few primal bread replacements before, ranging from okay to oh-my-god-I’m-never-making-that-again (I’m looking at you, carrot and walnut bread…).  But one thing they all had in common was that they made small, dense loaves, and couldn’t really be used to make a sandwich, or a nice egg and bacon roll.  All that changed this week, though, when I found a very easy to make almond meal bread recipe.

Not only is this bread recipe tasty, it is suitably light and fluffy, and is incredibly quick and easy to make.  This one comes courtesy of the Mark’s Daily Apple forums, and was posted by Rivvin.  I am incredibly grateful to have discovered it.  So, enough rambling form me, here’s how to make it:

1/4 Cup of Almond Meal
1 Egg
1 Tablespoon of Butter or Coconut Oil
1 Teaspoon of Baking Powder

Now comes the fun part.  Mix all of that stuff up and pour it into a flat bottomed, microwave safe container.  Shove it in the microwave, and nuke the sucker for 1 minute and 20 seconds.  Depending on the size of your container, you’ll either get one slice of bread, or one thick slice of bread that can be cut in half to make two slices.

Damn easy to make, and takes all of 5 minutes to make a couple of rolls.  They work well with burgers as well, and judging by the response on the Daily Apple forums, the recipe can be adjusted to make a sweeter bread, suitable for desserts.

Food for Thought

I’ve been thinking a lot about food over the last couple of days (and I just couldn’t resist throwing in the puntastic title).  I find it rather interesting that so much of what is standard fair these days has such negative health impacts  (gluten and lectins anyone?).  But, I’ve been surprised at what else is lurking in what I would have considered perfectly healthy food.

I was reading the Marks Daily Apple Forums today at lunch, when I found an interesting thread, talking about nightshades.  I found it interesting for two reasons.  Firstly, there was the wide range of foods considered to be nightshades, and secondly, there was the effect that they can have on people (if you’re wondering what I mean by nightshades, check this page, as it sums it all up very nicely).

Despite having read about nightshades in the past, I was still surprised at the amount of nightshades in my diet.  Tomatoes? Check.  Capsicum? Check.  Chilli? Check.  Cayene Pepper? Check.  Paprika? Check. Potatoes? Check.  The list goes on, but these are the ones I tend to eat the most.

This is all very interesting, but why is this a problem?  As it turns out, nightshades have been linked to such things as osteoarthritis and other joint issues and auto-immune conditions.  Reading through the thread above, you could be forgiven for thinking that we’re doomed to a miserable life of pain if we don’t give them up, but like all things in life, your mileage may vary.

On a related note, I found another interesting thread, “Your Brain on Weight Loss”, talking about how our brain plays such a large part in how we lose or gain weight, and what we can do to make things easier for ourselves.  The most important message I took from what I’ve read so far is this: “To be healthy you must stop worrying about being healthy”.  So, I think I’ll take a page from another forum member, whose approach to eating, and life in general can be best summed up as “If it grew or moved, then I ate it, I lifted some heavy stuff, put it back down and ran a bit, that’s it”.

I had thought of cutting out nightshades for a while and see how I reacted, but on second thoughts, I like the simplicity of just eating good healthy food, doing a workout here and there, and just not worrying about it all.  Seems like a much better way of going about it…

Challenging Challenges are Challenging.

So, apparently trying to do a health challenge when you’re preparing for your wedding is really difficult.  Who’d have thought, hey?  The way things are going for me right now, I’m going to put my day by day challenge on hold until I’m back from my honeymoon.

I’m still in two minds about this, as it’s almost like I’m wimping out, but lurking in the back of my mind is that if I do too well, I’m going to look crap in my wedding photos, as my suit will be too big.  Of course, I’m not using this as an excuse to go on an all out binge either.  I’m planning on eating the best that I can, but if time or money are short, I won’t beat myself up because I indulged in something quick and easy, but not healthy…

A Mixed Bag…

Today’s post is a mixed bag of things that I’ve been doing or thinking about recently.  For starters, Yesterday was a pretty successful day, as far as food goes.  I managed to keep the urge to snack at work under control, thanks to rationing out my dark chocolate through out the afternoon.

Last night saw a bit of a splurge, as I’d intended to have steak with sweet potato chips as a bit of an indulgence.  In the end I gave the steak a miss (as my fiancé was rather sick, and didn’t feel like it), and just had the chips.  Not exactly the best, but it could have been a lot worse.  I figure that can be my 20% for the next couple of days.

This morning was a challenge, as far as food is concerned.  Unusually for us we have a loaf of bread in the house (as it was all my fiancé could stomach…), so it took all my self control not to make toast for myself.  In the end I decided to skip breakfast, and do an intermittent fast until lunch.  Possibly not the best decision, given that I’m still trying to get over the carbs, but what the hell.  I’m a bit peckish right now, but with less than an hour to go until lunch, I’ll survive.

This last week I’ve been reading the forums at Mark’s Daily Apple, which I’ve not done for quite some time.  Something that caught my eye was a thread about being health vs weight, when it comes to being primal.  I won’t go into details, as the interesting things is that it made me really think why I’m doing this, is it just to lose weight, or is it to be healthier?

I’ve been rather unhappy with the fact that I’ve regained all the weight I took off when I first went primal last year, along with the fact that I don’t feel as fit as I used to.  After a bit of thought, I’ve decided that while both are important, I’ll take healthy and perhaps a bit overweight over losing weight at the expense of health.  I’d like to think that if I try to be healthier, then the weight should take care of itself anyway.  I’m going to continue my habit of not weighing myself very often.  Instead I’ll rely on other aspects, like whether or not I can go back down to the smaller belt hole again, to track my progress.

I tried the cold shower thing again this morning.  This time I didn’t start with warm water then add cold, I started with half the hot water I normally would have, and then cranked the cold up all the way.  It was hard work actually staying under the water long enough to wash, but I managed it with a bit of positive thinking.  While the cold shower is turning out to be a great wake up, I’m still not 100% convinced it’s worth the effort.  More perseverance is needed, I think.