Whole 30 – Complete!

Hey guys! Just a quick check-in here. Today is the first day after my Whole 30. I’ve lost about 6 pounds, an inch or more off my waist, at least 1.5% body fat, and I’ve really changed a lot about how I see food. I’m surprised, honestly. I’ve always had issues with sugar, but now I don’t even really crave it. I had a sweetened yogurt this morning as part of my dairy reintroduction protocol, and my mouth started feeling kinda sticky and mucus-y almost immediately. Later on, I could taste the familiar “sugar graveyard” taste in my mouth. You know the one? Your mouth tastes kinda gross, kinda dry, and the best solution for it seems to be popping something sweet back in the ol’ bacon-hole to start the cycle all over again? Yeah, only now I recognized the taste for what it was, and didn’t get stuck in the trap.

So that’s cool. I really haven’t been craving sweets at all since I got a couple weeks into the Whole 30. My tastes have changed dramatically. I used to think that fruit wasn’t very sweet, but now it’s plenty sweet and in such a way that I don’t get the nasty taste later on. Plus I’m also getting nutrients, moisture and fiber at the same time. Big win for fruit. I’ve also noticed that my palate is more open to new flavors. I’m handling spicy food better than I used to, and even enjoying a little heat. I think I’d jacked my palate so far to the sweet end of the spectrum before that anything that wasn’t sweet was amplified. Now I’m much more balanced and can appreciate a wider range of flavors. That’s good stuff.

What else? Oh yeah. I’m flexible now. No idea when or how that happened but I can lean over and touch the floor with my knees locked. I haven’t been able to do that…ever. I have always struggled with flexibility and now it seems like I’ve got it to spare, at least compared to how I was before. Awesome!

I’ve got a picture from this morning, but haven’t loaded it up yet. I’ll do my usual comparison bits for you all. I’m jazzed, though! Definitely some significant results, and I realized that I can eat real, clean paleo for a good long while and be plenty happy. I don’t think I’ll be maintaining Whole 30-level strictness all the time, but I do think I’ll be living much, much closer to it than I was before. maybe a little sugar every now and again, probably some cheese on the regular, but I’m not going to be “that guy who says he eats paleo but every time you see him he’s eating nachos” anymore. Grains, with very few exceptions, are out for good. Cauliflower rice is plenty good enough to satisfy any rice-requiring dishes. I’m not saying I’ll never touch another corn chip, but I’m not going to buy the Costco-sized bag of them anymore, no matter how delicious they are and how great a deal it is. I don’t need to plow through three pounds of chips in a week.

Okay, so that’s it! Hopefully everyone enjoyed the journey as much as I did. I’m not where I want to be, body composition-wise, but I’ll just keep working at it until I get there. I know what I need to do, and I know that I can do it, and that’s a great thing. Thanks for reading!


Whole 30 – Week 3

One more week, one more check-in from me. Here goes:


I’m really starting to see some difference now. Significantly less on the sides, and a little definition around the upper chest. Score!

I think this perspective shows even more. I’m seeing increased definition in my shoulder, a flatter stomach, even a leaner neck and chin area. Pretty cool!

A couple other cool things. I made this dressing: Paleo Caesar it’s really tasty, and tastes just like creamy caesar dressing from a bottle. I used the It Starts With Food recipe for my latest batch of olive oil mayo and it turned out perfectly. Best taste and best texture of any recipe I’ve tried. here it is, if you want to give it a try:

  • One egg
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 1/4 cups light-tasting olive oil
Put the egg and the lemon juice into the blender or food processor (or bowl, if you don’t have those) and let rest for 30 minutes to come to room temperature. Add dry mustard and salt and 1/4 of oil and start mixing. Once the mixture is smooth, you slowly (very slowly) add the remaining oil until it’s all gone. Voila! Mayo.
What else? Oh, I also made the ISWF BBQ sauce, and that’s been really good, too (I’ll post a recipe for that one soon). And we made cauliflower rice to go with a curry that some friends brought over. It turned out so well! Here’s the recipe for that, from Nom Nom Paleo: Another (Simpler) Version of Cauliflower Rice
So yeah, lots of cooking. It’s been really fun! We’ve also gotten into a couple of super easy recipes lately. Oven-roasted chicken parts is probably my favorite. Some clarified butter, some salt, some seasonings, cover with foil, into the oven for 35 minutes at 400ยบ, then take the foil off and broil to get a little brown on them. It’s so easy you don’t even know. It’s tasty, too, and organic chicken legs from Costco are crazy cheap.

Okay, here’s a pile of links for you. I have many more, but this will help.

Vegans Secretly Achin’ for Some Bacon – I’m pretty sure this is why my wife married me. Bacon and underpants are a powerful combination.

Off the Wagon or Simple Indulgence? – “There is no cheating or indulging until you are well.” I like this idea. I also like his explanation for why an “indulgence” makes more sense, linguistically, than a “cheat”. I also think it makes sense to limit your indulgences to things that don’t hurt you too hard. If I have a bad reaction to gluten, I wouldn’t have a slice of cake as my indulgence. Your indulgences should be things you can enjoy a little of while staying healthy. If your indulgence makes you unhealthy, it’s too much or the wrong thing. Maybe it’s worth it to you to feel like a sack of smashed butts for a few days because you love cake that much? More power to you, but that’s not my jam. I can find plenty of amazingly delicious things I can eat that don’t make me sick. I don’t want to eat them for every meal, because that would make me unhealthy, but a little bit sometimes is perfect.

iPhone Appcessory Tests if Food is Really Organic – This is just cool. Science!

Chickens Dying From Fowl Light Bulbs – This is for my friends with hens. You might already know this, but it’s not something I would have considered if I had birds, so I figured I’d share.

How Should Science Be Done? – I’ve heard this argument as well, and I was swayed by it. Shouldn’t you be trying to disprove your hypothesis? If it’s your hypothesis ad you’re trying to prove it, doesn’t that mentality lead people to do bad science? I think it’s a reasonable question, but I can also understand Dr. Guyenet’s points. I don’t think that people are suggesting that we never stop trying to prove hypotheses wrong, though, which he seems to imply. At a certain point, those experiments are no longer useful, and I think everyone would agree. The difference is whether, when designing and running an experiment, you are working harder to prove yourself wrong or right? I can still see some benefit to going in with the mentality of trying to prove your hypothesis wrong, mostly from a psychological standpoint. Anyway, now I’m rambling.

Ancestral Health Symposium 2012 – Dr. Guyenet’s perspective on the conference. I’ll be posting more of these as they become available, and links to the talks themselves as well, when they pop up. Should be awesome! I like Dr. Guyenet’s perspective because he’s a little bit on his own in the ancestral health area, though people are slowly moving more towards his ideas, it seems. But he’s always fun, and sometimes he makes the hardcore low-carbers look downright silly. Or mean. And both are super funny to me.

Epic (Sustainable Farm-to-Table) Mealtime – This looks like a heck of a meal.

Why Animal Fats Are Good For You – A talk by Chris Masterjohn that he gave on the Low-Carb Cruise. That sounds like a great way to spend a week, btw. Steak and lobster and lots of garlic butter? Sign me up. Anyway, I like his approach. I also hear he absolutely knocked his AHS talk out of the park from a couple of sources I trust. Can’t wait to see it!

Okay, that’s it from me for today. Thanks for reading!

Whole 30 – Week 2

Jeez, I’ve been meaning to post more but life keeps interfering. Well I’ll at least get these once-a-week updates out, if nothing else.
Let’s get to it:

Honestly, I don’t feel like the pictures are doing me justice. I can feel abs under a thin layer of skin and fat all around my belly button. I don’t know that I’ve ever had that before. I know that I’ve lost significant fat, but maybe it just isn’t showing yet?

This one shows a little better, I think. Definitely less plump up front. I didn’t have a huge amount to lose, honestly, so I shouldn’t be surprised that the result isn’t super dramatic. What I would love to see is a comparison of myself before starting paleo and now. Unfortunately I didn’t take any proper “before” photos, but I’m so much skinnier! In a good way, though.

Okay, what else? Oh yeah, we’ve been making some recipes, too. Here’s one that worked well for us: The Tastiest Whole Roasted Chicken. Period.

We didn’t actually do it whole, though. I broke it down as best I could with my stupid-dull knives and roasted it in sections in a pan with some carrots, celery and onions. All I used to season was salt and a little black pepper and it came out really good! We also used the carcasses of the chickens to make some stock, which I’m currently working on filtering. I’m struggling with it, as I struggled with straining my clarified butter, but I’ve got high hopes that I’ll figure it out eventually.

Okay, I think that’s it. Sorry I haven’t been posting links for you guys. I just haven’t had the time to do them justice, so I’ll have to hit a few giant posts soon and try to get caught up. Thanks for reading!

Whole 30 – Week 1

Hey guys! Just wanted to check in with some news on the Whole 30. We’ve got over a dozen people taking part now, which is pretty awesome. I’ve finished reading the book, and absolutely loved it. We’ve also been getting as many group members together as possible a couple times a week to eat together, talk about progress, commiserate over foods we miss, etc. Overall, everyone seems to be having a good time, though the people who are transitioning to a Whole 30 lifestyle from a SAD are struggling more than those of us who were already paleo/gluten-free or whatever. We’re all still in the early, induction-type phases, though. I think as we get into weeks three and four, we’ll start seeing people universally feeling better.

In any case, I did want to share my pics with you. I’m doing one per week. Here’s the front shot from the day we started:

Side shot from start day:

Front shot from the end of week one. I can really feel myself leaning out. I’m not weighing myself (Boy do I want to, though), but I can absolutely tell by looking and feeling on my abdomen that I’ve slimmed down a fair amount. Just a week! Maybe you can’t really see it in these pictures, but I feel like I can a little.

Week one side shot:

Okay, here’s the start pic and the week one pic side by side. I feel like I can see some slimming on the sides for sure, though it’s definitely subtle.

Side by side shots of the side:

Not sure how much difference I’m seeing there. Most of the change I’m noticing is in the feeling when I touch my stomach. I know I’ve mentioned before that there’s a “loosening” phase when I lose fat, so it may not be getting smaller immediately, but the fat is much less dense, which has been the thing I’ve noticed first before I’ve noticed it going away completely. So that’s cool! I’m only a week into this gig, and there’s plenty of time left for some really serious changes, physically speaking.

Speaking of non-physical changes (hang on, I will be soon) there are a few things I’ve noticed that I’m really hoping the Whole 30 will help me change. For one, I am in the habit of eating something sweet after a meal. Every meal, it seems. Does breakfast usually include dessert? For me it was, for a while. So I’m working on that. Being done with a meal when I’m full, not when I was already full and then ate something sugary anyway. It doesn’t matter if it’s 85% cocoa, organic, fair-trade dark chocolate. The problem isn’t the sweet I’m eating, the problem is the habit that makes me reach for something sweet even when I’m not hungry anymore. The problem is also that treats should be just that, to my mind. There’s nothing special about Tuesday’s lunch. It doesn’t need to be finished with a dessert. Especially if I’m not even going to pay attention to thing while I’m eating it (which is very much how it tends to go). So what I’m working on now is to go without anything sweet after my lunches, maybe including some berries with breakfast, and I will generally have some fruit when I get home from work and with dinner. We’re going through a lot of fruit, which probably isn’t ideal, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction. Both my wife and I have noticed that fruit tastes sweeter when it’s the sweetest thing you eat than it does when you’re constantly dulling your tastebuds with hyper-tasting foods. I don’t know that I’ll ever get to the point where something tastes “too sweet” (you’re talking to the man who invented the jamsicle, here) but I’d at least like to be to the point where a sweet taste is a treat instead of the standard, especially if it’s any kind of added sweetener instead of fruit.

So there we go. That’s what’s up now. I’m enjoying good, solid, hearty breakfasts. Eggs with mustard and baconnaise with some paprika mixed in make for a tasty, non-traditional breakfast food. We’re also really loving the sugar-free bacon we got from US Wellness Meats (I won a $100 gift certificate! Did I tell you guys that? It’s awesome, and I bought so much meat.) and we found some clean breakfast sausages as well. Finding things that are gluten free is a cakewalk anymore, but finding packaged foods that are sugar free is far tougher than you’d think. Most any of the regular brands of hot dogs you see will have sugar in them. Lunch meats will often have sugar in them. Most every sauce, dressing, or anything else will. It’s kinda crazy when you think about it. My lunches thus far are mostly leftovers from dinner or my salads. Unfortunately the Applegate Farms pepperoni that I like so much contains sugar, so that’s a no-go. I found some pre-cooked chicken breast strips at Costco that are far from the highest quality meat, but they are definitely super quick and easy to throw together in the morning. For dinners, we’ve had burgers, steaks, chicken, ribs,smoked pork, lots of broccoli, sweet potatoes, a chuck roast cooked in a stew with carrots, celery and onions that was very good, and probably loads more I’m forgetting. We’re not hurting by any means, and we’re actually saving money, surprisingly enough. Gluten free packaged food is stupid expensive. It’s so much cheaper to eat real, unpackaged food that is gluten free because it’s only got the one ingredient. We’re also cruising through our meat stores pretty quickly, which is awesome! Gotta clear out the freezer and make room for the next cow.

Okay, I’m done for reals now. Thanks for reading!

Practical Paleo Review – Part 3

Hey guys! Unfortunately, I didn’t get a chance to make anything too advanced from the book, but I did clarify butter, make baconnaise, and made the smoky spice mix for burgers again, so maybe three of the smaller recipes are like one big one? I also shared these delicious things with friends, which is what it’s really all about anyway, isn’t it? So here are a few quick and easy recipes from Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo.

Okay, let’s run down real quick:

Clarified Butter – This is pretty easy, though I will freely admit that I’m not all that great at it yet. It seems that my cheese cloth just doesn’t want to strain out the bottom sludge. So when you heat the butter, you get protein skim on the top, then some kind of cloudy nonsense on the bottom. I can skim off the protein or strain out the top stuff, but it seems like the bottom stuff always comes through. Not sure what I’m doing wrong, but I’ll keep experimenting and get back to you. It’s still delicious, so I’m not complaining, I’d just like to be able to clarify my butter to that it’s actually clear, you know?

Smoky Spice Blend – I got the idea to make this and mix it into burgers from Civilized Caveman Cooking Creations, though I think his palate must be a lot more durable than mine, or those of my friends. He recommends putting 2 Tbsp into 1 pound of ground beef for spicy, smoky burgers, but that’s pretty hot. I’ve determined that 1 Tbsp of the mix for 1 pound of is much more my speed. Okay ,here’s how to make the spice mix: 1 Tbsp chipotle powder, 1 Tbsp smoked paprika (I’ve used regular paprika up to now, because it’s what I had, but I bet the smoked stuff would be great), 1 Tbsp onion powder, 1/2 Tbsp cinnamon, 1 TBsp sea salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. That will make about 5 Tbsp of the spice blend, which is really tasty. Worked into burger meat, it makes very flavorful, smoky, spicy burgers. With 2 Tbsp per pound of meat, they’re right at the top of what I still consider tasty before they get into “more pain than they’re worth” territory. With 1 Tbsp of the spices per pound of meat, it’s a great flavor, but not too hot. They’re definitely good with some cheese or some sweet BBQ sauce to cut the heat (though I’m doing a Whole 30 right now and can’t have either of those things, so I used some of the next recipe).

Baconnaise – We eat a lot of bacon, so we always have bacon fat sitting around, waiting for us to do something with it. Bacon mayonnaise is one of my favorites. I’ve made it before in sort of a half-bacon, half-olive sort of thing, but this time I just went full bore and did all bacon. The mayonnaise is super tasty, and tastes very strongly of bacon. It also comes out extremely thick, especially once it’s refrigerated. Like really thick. It works well if you’re mixing it with something else that more liquidy (mustard for deviled eggs? oily Wild Planet tuna?) but as far as a base for salad dressing or dip, it might be a little too thick. I think I might try to go with 3/4 of the oil as a light olive oil, with 1/4 of bacon fat next time so I get the bacon flavor but get a bit more of a traditional mayonnaise texture. If it works, I’ll definitely let you know.

Okay, here’s how we do baconnaise, Practical Paleo style.

  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp mustard (Diane recommends dijon, I do a stone ground brown, but pretty much anything should work)
  • 3/4 cup bacon fat, melted and cooled until room temp but still liquid

I do this in my food processor, because I’ve got a super-handy drizzling mechanism built into it. If you are not so lucky, you can drizzle from a measuring cup or a squeeze bottle or something. Okay, mix the yolks, the lemon juice and the mustard together until they’re thoroughly combined. Then start to drizzling the oil. Go slowly. If you rush it, you’ll end up with some nasty pile of things, none of which are baconnaise. So take your time. You’re just going to keep adding all the fat, slowly but surely, mixing it into the rest of the ingredients until it’s all gone. Then you scoop it all out, put it in a glass jar in the fridge, and there you go. Baconnaise. Super simple, super tasty.

There are so many other recipes in this book that I want to try, I just didn’t have the time to make it happen this weekend. Sorry, guys! Hopefully these three are enough to tide you over until you can get your own copy of the book tomorrow. I’m going to be going out and buying a couple extra copies to give to friends and family members, for sure. If it isn’t clear from me writing three blog posts devoted to it, I’m loving this book and I think you’ll love it, too. Enjoy, and thanks for reading!

Practical Paleo Review – Part 2

Back again, and holy cow was yesterday a big day for the blog! Many many thanks to Diane for posting the link on her Facebook page and bringing all you wonderful people here. It seems like people enjoyed Part 1, and I’m hoping Part 2 can do justice to what is my favorite section of this book. Let’s just jump right in, shall we? Here’s goes my review of Part 2 of Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo.

So here’s the thing. Most people who aren’t elbow-deep in the paleo world, especially those who have very strong opinions based on very little understanding, think that there’s just one way to do the paleo thing. Those of us who follow the blogs, read the books, listen to the podcasts, and watch the interviews/presentations, know better (though we may not have much of a social life, due to our paleo-obsessiveness). There are a lot of ways to do paleo, and there’s probably a way to do it for your specific needs that’s already out there somewhere. But other than baseline paleo (from Robb Wolf‘s book The Paleo Solution) or primal (from Mark Sisson‘s book The Primal Blueprint) and maybe Robb’s autoimmune protocol (from his website) do people actually know where to go to get a breakdown of what they should be eating for their specific goals? That’s what I love about section 2 of Practical Paleo, and why it’s my favorite section of the three. She has not just guidelines, but actual “Here are thirty days of meals, three meals a day, with the recipes,” for not just one or two goals, but for eleven of them! Everything from the neurological protocol designed for people with Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s to the athletic performance plan for hard-charging athletes. From digestive health, to heart health, to getting your blood sugar in line, Diane has laid out a 30-day plan for anything you could want to do. And if you don’t have any specific goals or health issues, she’s got a full 30-day plan called “Squeaky Clean Paleo” that will work for anyone who just wants to be lean and healthy. Seriously, I don’t think I’m doing justice to how cool this is.

When I talk to someone about paleo (as I did last night with the lady who cuts my hair) they always have a lot of questions about whether it’s healthy, how it works, why it works, etc. Section one covers all of that beautifully. Then, if they’re interested, their next question is almost always “How can I do it?” People are intimidated by such a big change, and the idea of giving up drive-through trash and caramel-colored liquid sugar fills them with dread. You mean they’d have to think about what they eat? They’d have to decide what Tuesday’s lunch will look like when they’re at the store on Sunday instead of when they’re at the menu board at McDonald’s on Tuesday at lunchtime? It’s terrifying. It’s more thought than most of them have put into their food at any point in their lives, which is probably what got them to the same place where living that way had gotten me: fat and sick. Doing a straight-up paleo gig is certainly good, and you can find some meal plans out there for them, but nothing I’ve seen is as comprehensive as Practical Paleo’s approach. Shopping guide, meal plan, recipe book, all of it in one place. It’s fantastic. And not just for your baseline paleo, but for all the different things you could possibly want to work on. That’s something I think bears repeating, so I’ll get to repeating it. Bear bear bear. Wait, that’s wrong. Here goes: The paleo diet concept is a baseline of quality real foods, avoiding irritants and processed junk, and eating quality carbohydrates in accordance with your goals. That’s broad, though. There’s a ton of space in there, and it’s easy to get lost, or at the very least not to find what’s optimal for you if you’re not a really dedicated researcher or tinkerer. Someone with Alzheimer’s and someone competing for the Crossfit games have violently different nutritional needs. Bam. This book has them both covered. Someone skinny looking to put on muscle and someone overweight looking to lose fat need to eat very differently. Bam. Covered. Digestive problems? Covered. Autoimmunity? Covered. And this isn’t to say that a baseline paleo wouldn’t help these people. It almost certainly would. But if we’re on board with the paleo concept, we’ve already got better. We want best. And having these individual plans will help people get to best all that much faster, and with less time spent experimenting to try to figure it out on their own. That means they get to their goals faster and easier, which means they’re more likely to stay motivated. Booyah all around.

Okay, so let’s get to details before we wrap up. What does each plan include? You get a full list of all the conditions or problems that a given plan is designed to help with. Then you get a list of “Add” or “Avoid” things. These are items or activities that are especially important for you to include in your diet or lifestyle, or to keep out of it, depending on your goall. You get a list of supplements that can help you, along with a list of the important nutrients you can get from whole foods and what those whole foods are. The section also includes a portion size guideline, which I think is very helpful. It’s very reasonable, too. Hefty amounts of protein, unlimited non-starchy veggies, and smaller amounts of starchy carbs and fruit. It’s far from restrictive, but also gives people an idea that it’s possible to overeat on a paleo plan (though I’ve noticed it’s much harder to do so), especially if fat loss is a goal.

So there you have it! That’s section two of Practical paleo and it’s excellent. I think it really adds something important to the whole paleosphere, and in a very concrete way. Not just another perspective on the same info, but a real expansion of some important concepts, laid out clearly and beautifully. Awesome!

I did want to mention that I finally talked myself into doing a Whole 30 with some friends. Actually the number of friends has expanded dramatically. It was going to be me and two others and now it’s like eight people, including my wife. That’s pretty cool! So I weighed and measured myself this morning as my “Before” stats, and I’ll do the same in 30 days (and not until then). Here’s where I stand right now:

  • Weight – 207.6 lbs
  • Omron – 14.6%
  • Calculated Lean Mass – 177.3 lbs
  • Calculated Fat Mass – 30.3 lbs
  • Waist – 35.5″
  • Suprailiac Pinch – 14

Not too bad, but I’m really thinking that I can make significant progress with this Whole 30 gig. To get to 10% body fat (which is my goal, and where I suspect I’ll see some abs) I need to lose 10 pounds of fat without losing any lean mass. I’m going to keep doing my Convict Conditioning work and eating plenty of quality protein, so I’m not worried about losing muscle, and if my prior experience is any indication, I think a full month without any sugar and with pretty limited starch might just get me to 10 pounds of fat loss. Fingers crossed!

That’s it for today, but I’ll be back with the final installment of my review, where I actually cook something from the book’s recipe section (I’m actually doing the clarified butter and the mayo tomorrow night, with friends, to get us all geared up for our Whole 30s, but I’m talking about a recipe even beyond those) so hopefully I’ll talk to you soon. Thanks for reading!