Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Big Announcement!

     It's late; I'm tired; and I have to work tomorrow. The big news is.....I'm going back to eating the SAD diet. I just can't do this anymore. Just kidding. I thought I'd go ahead and get the April Fool out of the way because what I'm doing is so much better than that.

     I'm participating the in A-Z challenge, so every day in April (with the exception of Sundays), I'll be posting a new recipe from A-Z. It has been so much fun and so tasty trying out all of these recipes. I don't want to give too much away, but we're talking tasty recipes that range from simple to complex, meaty to baked goods, American, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Polynesian, Mexican, and vegetarian. I have it scheduled to publish every day at the same time, even if I'm unable to get on here due to work or whatever. So feel free to check in daily to get a new delicious recipe.

     I'll try to keep everything up on my facebook page, as well, but that may be a little harder. It may be done in chunks. Anyway, I look forward to sharing these recipes with you, and I hope that if you try them, you will write a comment on what you thought about it. Enjoy!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Paleo and Energy: Why Taking Care of Yourself Is So Important

     There are many types of energy around us. In fact, if we break the universe down, we find that it is almost purely expressed in one form of energy or another. And we are energy sensing beings. Our whole bodies are geared toward sensing and interpreting energy. When we see, we are interpreting light energy. When we hear, we are interpreting sound energy. Textures that we feel are produced by friction, which is so energetic, it can produce a charge. Molecules that we smell are made up of atomic energy, and the flavors we taste are chemicals.

     There are many other forms of energy that exist, too, some that we can perceive and detect, and some that is probably completely lost to us because we have no way of sensing them, but for as much as we are energy sensing being, we are also beings who produce and use a large amount of energy. These personal energies are expressed in both science and religion. We all know about metabolism, body heat, and nerve impulses. Movement is kinetic energy. Stillness is potential energy. Energy cannot be created or destroyed, but can be transferred. These are valid scientific statements.

     In religion, we hear of other forms of energy: the Love and Light of God, chi, ki, prana, shi, mana, telesma, ruach, od, orgone, pneuma, numen, kundalini, aura, male, and female. I don't claim to know what all of these words mean, but I do believe that there are sources of energy within and without that we are not capable at this time of measuring in a scientific way, but can be utilized to help us.

     In order to replenish our energy stores, we must take care of ourselves. The first and most important thing (and one we seem to find the hardest) we can do for ourselves to replenish our personal energy is to get plenty of sleep. I personally have a very hard time with this. I hate for my days to end. I want to stay up and talk to Ray, but I know that it's important, especially in a job where my mindfulness or lack thereof can cause others harm, so I try get a decent amount of sleep, and I set my alarm at lunch, so I can get a nap almost every day.

     Female energy is that which sustains us; it is mother energy. It is the nourishment that sustains us, and it should be the best that we can give ourselves because we are worth it. It can be all too tempting to say, "I've had a hard day. I'm going to eat ______ because I deserve it." You will find that your body disagrees. It will say, "I've had a hard day. Why should I then be forced to deal with this." At this point, your overtaxed body will retaliate with gas, indigestion, pain, swelling, foggy feelings, and/or a myriad of other complaints. This is your body's way of telling you that it is not pleased, that it wants pure, unprocessed food. I used to be this way, and Ray was even worse. He was constantly wanting to go out to eat, especially on his days off. He would order pizza, yeast rolls, macaroni and cheese, and cheese on everything. When we did eat at home, he wanted frozen dough pockets filled with cheese, cereal, boxed macaroni and cheese, pasta dishes, cheese on everything, and huge blocks of cheese. And we would talk about how bad we felt, how much weight we'd gained, but the cycle would and did continue up until a year ago when we went Paleo. I have to admit that now those things not only seem unappetizing, but they smell disgusting.

    Male energy is that which is basic to life; it is our father energy. It is the very breath we breathe and the sun that shines down on us. Because our breath is so important, it is very important to get clean air into our lungs. We all know how bad smoking is for us, that it harms our health, and if you're looking into a healthier way of eating, a healthier way of living should be on your list of priorities. I once knew a woman who ate vegetarian, did advanced yoga (including the breathing exercises), and smoked two packs of cigarettes a day. She seemed to have a bizarre kind of courage. I know quitting can be hard (I watched Ray go through it twice), and so can switching over to a Paleo diet, so it might not be something a person should try simultaneously, especially when failure in one could lead to failure in the other, and that could become forever connected in your mind, but it is something to think about. As for the sun, we have contradictions. We know that we need the sun, so our bodies can produce Vitamin D, but we also know that too much exposure can lead to skin cancer. My suggestion is to be smart about it. Spend a few minutes a day in the sun before you put on you sunscreen or sunglasses. I can't tell you what's right because I don't know.

     Divine energy is the unconditional love of God. Sometimes it can be hard to take care of ourselves because it feels like we are being selfish. We put others first, but maybe it's time to see ourselves through God's eyes. Once we see how important and loved we are, it will be easier to see ourselves as a priority. When I think about this, I'm always reminded of the metaphor of the heart. Our beautiful, beating heart knows that without its contribution, life is impossible, so in order to maintain its own health, it takes the first share of oxygenated blood before sending the rest to the remainder of the body. We have to be more like our hearts, taking care of ourselves, so we have the capacity to care for others.

    The Paleo diet is more than just a way of eating; it is a way of life. It advocates eating the diet our ancestors ate, but also moving the way our ancestors did (slow and steady with sudden bursts of speed to escape predators and lifting heavy things), getting plenty of rest and sleep, getting clean air and sunshine, spending time with family, and taking good care of ourselves. And when you think about it, these are really the most important things in life.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Paleo and the Three (Four) Minds: Or How to Stick to Your Diet During Tough Times

     I first heard of the theory of three minds back in high school when I took a class in psychology. Though I've never been a big fan of Sigmund Freud, the theory stuck out to me. It states that there are three minds within us all, and while he gave them fancy names, it basically boils down to your aware mind, your unaware mind, and your primitive mind, but I like to take it one step further and include your super-aware mind.

When a salad looks this good, it's easy to
decide to eat salad every day.
     Your aware mind is that part of you that is ready to change, to eat better, to get in shape, to feel better. It's the part of you that decides you're going to eat a salad for lunch every day, and you're only going to drink water. It's your awareness that when you look in the mirror, you don't like what you see, or when you walk up stairs, you don't like how you get out of breath, or when you eat certain foods (like bread), you don't like how you get bloated and gassy. Your aware mind is the part of you that wants to change and has big plans. It's the part that you may have confused with your willpower, but willpower just isn't that simple. The aware mind is not your willpower. It is just that part of you that can become aware of a situation and plan for certain eventualities. It's that part of you that you have to employ in order to have strategies in place for when the other minds come into play.

If this is in your pantry, it's all too easy for
your unaware mind to reach for a cookie.
     Your unaware mind is the part of you that is functional without your awareness. Think of it as that part of you that gets you through your day, like how you can drive to work without remembering how you got there because nothing significant happened to bring your aware mind into play. It's the part of you that reaches for the same old thing when you get hungry and haven't planned. It's the part of you that needs you to clean out your cabinets and fridge in order to have none of the usual things on hand.

     Your primitive mind is the part of you that is the hardest to access. It's the part of you that relies on habits. I actually heard this explained first in my study of yoga as a "samskara" which basically means rut or impression. It's that way we wear a particular pattern into our lives by doing the same thing over and over again. The problem comes when we practice unhealthy habits and those unhealthy habits become samskara. We can change our samskara by forging new habits, but we have to employ our aware mind to set up thesee new habits. This can be achieved easier if we don't let ourselves get too tired, too hungry, or too stressed. Strategies for not getting too tired are to get a good amount of sleep, set electronic curfews, and take naps. Strategies for not getting too hungry are to keep Paleo-approved snacks with you. These can include nuts or nut butters (not peanut) or Paleo-approved jerky for times you're feeling light-headed and need protein; apples or other crunchy foods for when you're stressed and need a good crunch; seeds salted with sea salt for when you're craving something salty; dates are great for sweet and chewy cravings; and dark chocolate for when nothing but chocolate will get you through. Strategies for not getting too stressed can be a little harder. Stress happens. It is very hard not to let stressful events get the better of us at times. The key is to have things you enjoy that help you unwind. Exercise is good because it helps release endorphins. Prayer and meditation can also reduce stress. It's also good to have friends and loved ones you can talk to or do things you enjoy with to help in stress reduction.

     The super-aware mind, however can be your best friend. This part is what allows us to connect to God. Scientists have been studying this phenomenon, and have found that through prayer or meditation, we can activate parts of the brain, coined "the God centers." We can strengthen our brains, and with the help of God, we can forge new samskaras and increase our willpower to get us through the tough times until Paleo becomes such a way of life that we are no longer tempted by SAD food.

     Over the past month, I've had a rough time. I've been sick, Ray started a new medication but had to go back off of it because of it's effect on his blood sugar. The kids have been sick. With all of this going on, plus the added stress of working long, stressful hours at work, sticking to Paleo can be hard. I find myself craving sweets after really hard days. I also need something crunchy when I get off work. I keep an apple in my lunch bag for after-work crunchy needs, and I have an ounce of dark chocolate at the end of the day. And if the craving gets really bad, I'll give in to some dates or even some cookies or cupcakes made from almond flour or coconut flour. And coffee has been on my mind more often than not, and since I like my coffee sweet, I've been adding coconut sugar to it. All of these things have helped me keep my sanity without making me feel worse.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Paleo Lifestyle Tips: Find a Friend

     Completely changing your diet can be hard. Ray and I have tried several diets, and none of them have really worked because they were either crap, or he and I couldn't get on the same page. Then, last year, I told him that I couldn't continue to do what we were doing. I wasn't losing weight, and I felt bad all the time. Shortly after, we found Paleo, and we both loved it. The whole family loved it. The food was good, and we all started feeling better.

     I found my Paleo companion in Ray. We would talk endlessly about how much we loved the food and the way we felt and the improvements in health and behavior. We would go for walks, and the reduction of pain and inflammation would sustain and cheer us. Though the grain detox was rough, especially for Ray who had the flu-like symptoms that can accompany giving up grain, I knew that I would never go back. In fact, there have been a few times at work when people have brought in doughnuts, cookies, brownies, and scones, and I have not given in to temptation. I've even found the smell to be repulsive after about 30 minutes. There's even one woman who thinks she's being cute and tempting me. She looks directly at me while she shoves a wheat NOtreat into her mouth and says, "Mmmmmm!" Once she even put a bag of cookies right in front of me when I declined to eat them. I just placed them right back next to her.

     I don't know if I would have made it or been able to withstand that kind of temptation without that support, but I know there are a lot of people out there who's partner and/or family does not support them. This is where having a Paleo friend can come in handy. If your partner or family does not want to convert, find a friend who is also looking to change their diet and feel better. Barring that, go online and find support. There are so many blogs and bloggers who can boost your resolve.

     I count myself very lucky. Not only do I have a supportive husband who will help with the cooking of our delicious foods, but I have kids who love Paleo enough to read my cookbooks and ask to try new recipes. They've even invented a few recipes of their own. On top of that, my mom has gone Paleo, and I have this blog.

     Many diet books talk about finding someone to support you, and it really is important. So if you don't have a support system, and you want to talk about all things Paleo, join me here, and we can talk.