Tag Archives: protein

My body finally got on board with my brain

So. Hi all. I know it has been quite some time since I’ve done this. Write about my journey towards health and happiness with my physicality, that is. So there’s lots to say. But it is 1:35 AM at this moment, so I’m going to pare it down a bit.

So after my ex and I became, well, exes, and thus I had to depart from his homestead and move back in with my parents, I put back on a decent portion of the weight I had lost in the months prior. And that was sad, and I wanted to do that thing where you already feel bad about yourself so you eat even worse and workout even less because, what the hell, I already look like shit, what’s one more pound? But I didn’t. I fought tooth and nail to regain control of my eating habits which, I must say, is not an easy thing to do while living with a woman who naturally burns 4000 calories a day. Why God? Why wasn’t I born with my mother’s metabolism?

Anyway, I lost nearly all the weight I had repacked on and was getting on my way to losing more. I was still struggling with sugar, so I was getting lax about what I was eating, and started caring more about how much I was eating. And that was working alright. But I felt awful after eating wheat. Not guilty awful. No, unwell awful. So I knew I needed to get back onto the Paleo train. BUT, a week at the lake with my very large Italian family threw a wrench into that plan, and rather than getting my ass back into gear, my ass got bigger yet again.

Sigh.

So then there’s July. It is UNGODLY hot here in Michigan, especially in my parents crap-ass house that doesn’t have AC. This climate crisis is bad because it prevents me from being able to go running without getting heat stroke, and the very notion of spending an hour in the 80 degrees+ yoga studio makes me want to vomit, so my exercise becomes limited to taking walks after dark. Not what I’d call kickass cardio. BUT, the good thing about it is my appetite disappears when I am dying of heat exhaustion. So once again, I start shedding weight, praise the lord.

And then, about two weeks ago, something wonderful, something glorious happened: my body spontaneously decided it no longer wanted carbs, but especially, sugar. I hadn’t been obsessively limiting my sugar intake, I’d even let myself eat a little pasta when it was the only thing that sounded appealing, but then *POOF* I lost all taste for grains and sweets. Do you have any idea how freeing it is to stand in front of a cake and have absolutely no desire to eat it? To see a sea of mostacciolli at a wedding and pass it by without a second thought? I don’t crave cookies anymore. I crave salad with a great homemade vinaigrette, or protein protein protein. Yum. It’s as if the heavens have opened and I can hear the angels singing.

So I am now officially back down to the weight I was at my lowest pre-break-up. Hurray! I don’t feel like I look as good as I did then, which is probably because my muscle mass is down since I haven’t gone for a run in ages and just this week finally made it back to yoga. But taking 4-mile walks to the library with the kiddies during work, and re-introducing myself to my yoga mat will even things out soon, and then I may finally–FINALLY–be on my way to meeting my goal weight.

This has not been an easy journey, but I have not  any point, fully fallen off the wagon.  I’m not sure why my body suddenly decided to get happy about Paleo,  but I’m not going to question it. I’m just going to be thankful that my brain and my body are on the same page, and I might be able to ride this train to my final destination: physical health and self-confidence.

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Filed under The Good Foods, The Good Moves, Wellness

My tongue is purple…and happy

I just ate a bowl of beets for lunch, and you know what? I’m full and happy.

And satisfied.

For years and years and…well, let’s be honest here–for well over a decade, I never really knew what it was to be satisfied. I ate so much, but even when I was distended and uncomfortable and considering making myself throw-up just to feel a little bit better, I still wanted more. I don’t really remember a day that I ate a plate of food, sat back and said, “I’m done. I’m good.” I always wanted seconds of something–in retrospect, it was usually whatever had the most carbohydrates–and I always wanted dessert. Always.

ALWAYS.

ALWAYS.

Do you get me here? Do you understand what that was like? If you do, I am sorry, because it sucked. It sucked SO MUCH.

Then, a few months ago, when I started playing with paleo, I suddenly learned what it was to be done eating and OK with it. I had been weening myself off of sugars for a few weeks the first time I really noticed it was happening.  It was a Saturday night, I was going out with friends in the evening, and I didn’t have much time to throw together a meal for myself. So I just steamed a bunch of broccoli real quick, and reheated some grilled chicken. I ate my sad little dinner in about 4 minutes…and I was full. Not stuffed, but no longer hungry. And even better, I wasn’t sitting there thinking, “You what would be really good right about now? Ice cream or garlic bread or 17 Reese’s cups.” I was totally and completely satisfied. Mind=BLOWN

When I eat a healthful, low or no sugar meal, I get to enjoy that feeling. It is only when I allow myself unfriendly foods that I backslide into the hell that is over-fullness and still wanting more More MORE. Last night at a family gathering  I was being “good”: I ate a big salad, some fruit, a couple bites of sub-par pasta salad, and I was pretty much done. But–oh, of course there’s a but, there’s always a but–then the cheesy potatoes came out of the oven. And then the cake was served. (THIS is the problem with having a large Italian family that gets together all the time) And in true Pamela form I caved.

Why, oh why, do I always fucking cave?

It was the only meal I ate yesterday, so I didn’t completely screw myself, but I did leave that party feeling…blah. Just too full. And I had cake on the brain the rest of the night.

[Christ, do I hope this is the last time I have to write about losing another battle against sugar. I know eventually I will win the goddamn war, but I just have too many tales of defeat.]

But then today, I eat my eggs for breakfast and BOOM! Full. Four hours later I’m not yet truly hungry but I know I should eat so I enjoy a bowl of roasted beets, enough that my tongue turns a lovely shade of magenta, and I am totally satisfied. It’s such a fabulous feeling.

Since going (mostly) paleo, I can make a meal of such simple things and truly enjoy it. A green salad with thinly sliced beef and just a little bleu cheese: killer and filling. A can of tuna (yeah, freaking tuna) with capers, red pepper, and celery: perfect and I’m perfectly full. When I roast a head of cauliflower,  I need nothing else. (That said, I will pair it with a lovely protein, but the point is, I don’t need to to feel satisfied.) In fact, roasted cauliflower may be my very favorite food now. Shall I share my recipe?

OK, twist my arm, why don’t you.

Roasted Cauliflower

1 large head of cauliflower, cut into florets

1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt, at least

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Note: Just the above ingredients together are fabulous but I add these additional seasonings for something a bit more special.

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon cumin (freshly ground if possible)

1/4 teaspoon ground coriander

1/8 teaspoon tumeric

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Toss your florets in the olive oil and spread on a baking sheet OR grease the baking sheet with half of the oil and drizzle the rest over the cauliflower (I prefer the second method because you may end up using less oil–gotta watch those omega 6s). Evenly sprinkle the cauliflower with  seasonings (and by all means, try any seasoning you like!) but be sure to be generous with the salt. Then pop the baking sheet into the oven until you can smell the cauliflower (it’s a great, nutty aroma, you’ll know it when you smell it), or about 15 minutes. Turn the florets, and then bake another 10-15 minutes, or until evenly browned. The more browned they get, the more condensed the flavor gets, but then the texture is less al dente. So kinda play with the recipe until you find what works best for you. Finally, eat, love, be satisfied.

It’s moments like this when I don’t understand why I bother with sugar. I mean, OK, sometimes it’s just worth it, (I will probably go to Inn Season cafe for the world’s best chocolate mousse on my birthday) but normally it’s just…not. I feel so much happier in brain and body when I eat my simple paleo-friendly foods than I do when I ingest even small amounts of  sugar. I need to remind myself in those pathetic moments when I’m considering allowing my addiction to rule my actions that I will feel so much better if I resist the carbohydrate siren call.  I need to remind myself of how I feel right now: happy and satisfied…and proud of my purple tongue.

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Filed under self-reflection, The Good Foods, Wellness

My Veggie Tale

Have you ever felt compelled to do or be something? You couldn’t say why exactly you were being called, but you heard the call nevertheless and wanted to respond? Long ago, I felt compelled to become a vegetarian.

Maybe it was because I never particularly enjoyed meat. Maybe it was because I love animals and even if it wasn’t a moral issue to me, it was a comfort issue. Maybe it was because I so easily blended into the background, and I really just needed something to make me feel different from the other drones in Warren. All I know is, when I had to right a song about myself in the 8th grade, a line in the chorus was “I want to be a vegetarian.” So, after barely touching red meat for a year, I cut all meat out of my diet completely the summer before 10th grade.

Golly, was I proud! It felt like a real accomplishment, even though my life barely changed. I still ate loads of pizza, just without the pepperoni. I still ate heaping bowls full of spaghetti, just with spicy marinara instead of meat sauce. I still ate way too much dessert. Now, I wasn’t a complete and utter cow. I also still ate enormous salads and massive bowls of steamed broccoli and cauliflower and fruit fruit fruit. But I didn’t feel deprived by not having chicken, so, I ask you, was there really any feat there?

Allow me to answer that question: No.

During this time, I had a cold perhaps 10 months out of the year. And my hair slowly but surely went from thick and frizzy to thin and wispy. And my nails yellowed. And I had a headache nearly every day. And I had awful insomnia.

Did I at any point think that my unhealth could be attributed to my diet? Never. NOT ONCE. My never-ending cold was just my POS immune system—and my immune system was clearly a genetic defect, not vitamin-deficiency related. My hair falling out (yes, it was coming out in clumps, but I still didn’t get the hint) was just the result of normal hormone shifts. My nails were from wearing nail polish with a basecoat. The headaches, well, I’d had migraines since I was 4 years old, so those were par for the course—and I never thought that maybe I could hunt down enough of my triggers that I wouldn’t have those migraines any more The sleep was stress, because I had plenty of that.

I went through life for years, thinking I was healthier than everyone else. I thought I was getting plenty of protein from peanut butter, beans, soy milk, chickenless chicken nuggets, tofu, and veggie burgers. I lived in a daze of superiority: I, the vegetarian, was being good to my body while they, the omnivores, were killing themselves.

Did you read those symptoms up there? I was the one killing myself.

Then, something wonderful happened. I mean, it sucked, but it started me out on the path to a balanced diet: I became soy intolerant. Think of lactose intolerance, but soy. I had struggling with terrible stomach aches for a few months when I finally decided that I needed to do an elimination diet to determine what the fuck was screwing with my tummy. The second I said goodbye to soy, I felt fine. Wonderful, even. So suddenly I lost a lot of the variety of my life. My main protein source was now the enemy, and I suddenly cared more for my health than I had for the previous 7 years combined. And I was suddenly afraid of having a protein deficiency (seems silly now, seeing as I had many deficiencies during those 7 years, protein among them).

Afraid that my health might suffer—HA!—I made a difficult decision: I would start eating chicken again. It was a process, but after a time I enjoyed chicken again and very much enjoyed cooking with my new favorite ingredient. Occasionally I’d try some turkey, or, even more infrequently, pork. I thought I’d fixed my problem. But after a year of eating one animal, thinking all the while that I was being good to my body, I noticed something disturbing.

One evening while getting ready for bed, I looked at my hairline, and I realized I could see the entire curvature of my skull through my hair. My hair had become so sparse I saw more scalp than tresses. IT WAS HORRIFYING.

I was 22 and balding?! No, that would not do. It’s tragic that something as shallow as my hair is what finally showed me how unwell I had been, but at least something finally woke me up.

It took one Google search to find that the main causes of hair loss are protein, iron, and zinc deficiencies. And where do you get the most of those three nutrients? Red meat.

Epiphany.

Now, was I ready to make that leap? No. Not at the time. I started eating loads of fortified cereal and taking my multi-vitamin religiously, but I still wasn’t willing to put myself first. But then Stef told me about the Paleo diet. And one thing she told me really leapt out at me: our bodies, our skin, our muscles are made out of protein; doesn’t it make sense to eat that which we are made out of to be the strongest, healthiest version of ourselves? I was sold.

Now, let me say one thing: after years of being iron deficient, you can taste it. Oreos tasted slightly metallic a few months after I went veg (Yes, Oreos have 15% of your RDA of iron, but I do NOT recommend your supplement your nutrition with cookies). So eating red meat again was difficult. The first time I made beef stew, well, I mostly ate the potatoes and carrots. But after making an incredible batch of lamb stew for St. Patrick’s Day, I was converted. I have bought myself beautiful grass-fed beef tenderloin, I have ordered hamburgers in restaurants, and I am mastering the art of the meat ball.

I am pleased to say that my hair already looks thicker, and my nails have a distinct horizontal stripe—above the stripe they are yellow, below, clean and white.

And for the first time in years, I feel good. My never-ending cold has finally, gloriously ended. I’ve had one migraine in the last month. And I can sleep at night. Soundly.

God, does it feel good to feel good.

I don’t judge anyone for wanting to be a veg (I still hear the call now and then for reasons unknown). And if others can do it and be healthy and feel alive, more power to them. But, as for me, I believe in meat. I can’t save an animal but kill myself.

My name is Pamela Susan Wall, and I am an omnivore.

About. Fucking. Time.

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Filed under The Good Foods, Uncategorized, Wellness