Archive for May, 2011

2-week Update:

We had an anniversary cheat night last night. We both had cheese fries at outback, A had half of a sweet potato (prob closer to 1/3 since Iris [our dog] had some too), and D had 3 beers.

This is after A had her own cheat (after getting sick, so she was required to be on liquids [i.e. anything that becomes liquid once it enters the body]) of ice cream. I (A) had been moaning about wanting ice cream for a while now anyway, so it wasn’t a hard sell, and I’m really glad I had it… because I felt awful the next day. I had a headache that wouldn’t go away (despite lots of advil, ice, aromatherapy, etc.), so now I at least know how my body responds to it. On top of that, it wasn’t nearly as satisfying to have the ice cream (my favorite kind: Breyer’s Mint Chocolate Chip) as I thought it would be. It was good, but…. So now I know. If I want to have it, I have to be prepared that the next day may completely suck for me. As a substitute, the coconut milk ice cream sweetened with sevia was fine (though it has a tiny weird aftertaste). The best option seems to be frozen fruit blended with heavy cream or coconut milk like my mom used to make in the vitamix (she used to add sugar, though not a lot, and often whole milk instead of cream). I made up some the other day, when I was dying for something and wanted to do a Paleo cheat – it was good too, though again, not as satisfying as I remembered it – though it always had sugar when she made it, and I just used coconut milk & strawberries….

Last night’s cheat was useful too. The outback cheese fries were, in a word: delicious. However, we didn’t feel great after eating them, and my weight is up this morning (it’s been mostly a steady incline down, but never yet this much up in one day…. As of Saturday morning (13 days of eating Paleo), I (A) was down 7.2 pounds. That one serving of cheese fries apparently put 2 pounds back on. Not cool, cheese fries, not cool. As of yesterday, D was down 6.6 pounds… but he didn’t have the day of not eating that I had when I got ill… Apparently, eating Paleo really does make your body burn fat in times of famine!! (When he gets up he’ll weigh in for the day, but I imagine he’ll find the cheese fries + beer were not good for his numbers either….) [He was up 2.2 lbs today.]

So we’re learning a lot. D is quite happy eating meat all the time, and I’m getting used to cooking things that I never really made before. I’m learning how my body feels about certain substances, and finding out just how satisfying a sweet potato can be (it was sooooo good!).

On the subject of sweet potatoes, we have a two-week update to the challenge. See below. I will say on the subject of how we’re feeling that A is no longer experiencing insanely crazy mood swings (hopefully her body will detox those cheats out ASAP) but that she still feels fatigued from normal activity. This still could be mental though, as she is still job hunting. D seems to be doing fine, adjusting to his new job (which started the same time as the challenge), but is definitely ready for bed between 10-11pm….

We’ll keep you updated!

From Brian at Potomac Crossfit on the Paelo Challenge Blog:

Just as a general observation, I’ve never repeat NEVER seen training long slow distance runs and/or high volume of training generally improve any facet of fitness, and most of the time I see people gain weight.

So if your goal is to lose weight, and you’re doing something (training long slow distance/high volume of training), then you’re sabotaging your goals. [This was him responding to another question, but interesting enough to leave in!]

1) If you are experiencing good results so far: you’ve lost some weight, or a better indicator, you’re dress size/pants size has gone down, and you’re feeling good energy-wise: change nothing. We’re going to ride that pony until it drops.

2) If you haven’t experienced weight loss/decreased dress size/decreased pants size, and you feel crappy, then post something or email me and Kari so we can take a hard look at what you’re doing and get you on track.

3) If you have lost weight/decreased dress or pant size, and you are bonking on WODs then we need to add some starchy veggies:

sweet potato
butternut squash
acorn squash
spaghetti squash

Amount should be about the size of the palm of your hand if you are still looking for weight loss. If you are lean and are mainly looking for performance, bump that amount up to the size of your fist.
This should be eaten as quickly post-WOD as is humanely possible, along with some meat.


In response to Brian’s comment about running, in “Lights Out…” she talks about this. When we run for extended periods, our hormonal control center thinks we’re running from a predator. it therefore tells our adrenals to dump a crapload (technical term) of cortisol (ie the “fight or flight” hormone) into our bloodstream. And as we know, excess cortisol makes our bodies protect the vital (abdominal) organs by encasing them in as much fat as possible.

She talks about the runners high as well and how this relates hormonally to the cortisol release, etc.. It’s a good read if you want to learn more. Basically though, she says this “high” activates an area of the brain often referred to as the “god module” which is where the brain is most active during spiritual experiences. So, if you’re running from that sabre-toothed tiger, you’ve got the “flight” support of cortisol until eventually, your body gives out, then the “runners high”/ “god module” kicks in so you’re delirious when it finally tears you apart. 🙂 Thanks, biology.


11:00am: 1 egg cupcake
1230pm: 1 egg cupcake, 2 pieces sopressata, 1/2 cup chopped broccoli & cabbage salad
1:40pm: 2 slim jims (heading to baby shower… Trying to prevent hunger so I don’t eat too much of the anticipated sugar-laden bounty)

11:00am: 1 egg cupcake, 5-6 pieces sopresata

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Food journal- May 21

A’s Notes post-cheat night:
My hip was sore last night, so I massaged it a bit, but it woke me in the night hurting. It’s still sore this morning, and my head hurts as well (even after breakfast). I’m not sure if either of these are related to my ice cream cheat last night (though I think the headache is probably related- not sure if it’s the sugar or dairy or combo). I just want to keep track, so I can see what the pattern is.

11:15am: 2 eggs over easy, 3 pieces bacon, coffee with coconut milk
2:30pm: sausage with tomato sauce, chopped broccoli/ cabbage salad (leftovers)
5:30pm: (anniversary night out) outback cheese fries, salad (we were full, so we left the restaurant and brought our entrees home)
8:00pm: 8 oz filet mignon, 1/2 large sweet potato with butter

11:15am: 3 eggs over easy, 5 pieces bacon
2:30pm: Oscar Mayer turkey sausage with mustard/ ketchup
5:30pm: (anniversary night out) outback cheese fries, salad, 22 oz Newcastle brown ale (we were full, so we left the restaurant and brought our entrees home)
8:00pm: 2 bottles of budwiser

10:30am: protein shake (due to last night’s illness) – Jay Robb protein powder (whey protein, stevia, etc.) with “so delicious” unsweetened coconut milk (5g fat, 1g carb, 1g protein). I want meat. Ha! Didn’t expect that, but I’ve been craving it since last night!! I guess that’s what happens when you can’t have something…lol
12:30pm: hamburger with ketchup, mustard, & mayo (I couldn’t stomach another shake, & I figured ground beef would go down easier than anything else solid…)
2:30pm: hamburger with ketchup, mustard, & mayo
6:30pm: hamburger with ketchup, mustard, & mayo, cauliflower “rice”
7:30pm: breyers mint choc chip ice cream (cheat night!)

lunch: lettuce-wrapped lunch meat “sandwiches”
6:30pm: 2 jalepeno hamburgers with ketchup, mustard, & mayo, cauliflower “rice”
7:30pm: 1 bottle Newcastle brown ale (cheat night!)

This is another post for notes and thoughts about the book “Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar, & Survival” by T.S. Wiley with Bent Formby, PhD.

I do feel I should note (since I didn’t say it yesterday but it does still apply), this info is from the book, not my opinion, not medical advice, and I have not at all verified the validity of this or looked at the research myself. (End disclaimer.)


Chapter 3 Notes:

The chapter starts off by talking about how the bacteria in our digestive tract is a major player in our immune system & sleep. There’s some science here that I’ve heard before, so I’m not going to repeat it (I’d rather read than wrote today).

There are a few key points I want to note though:

* Body senses sugar/ stress–> produces cortisol.
Light–> elevates cortisol levels.
[Circadian rhythms + carbs] Control Insulin production.

* “Insulin secretion is controlled by the food you eat, but the food you want is controlled by your immune system responding to perceived seasonal variation in the light.” (p. 56)

* Lots of light = end of summer = need to bulk up and hibernate –>
“Carbohydrate craving is a precursor to sleep that we all still respond to every night that we’re up late…. Remember, a midnight snack is never a hard-boiled egg.” (p. 56)


* “…the end of summer is the only time in actual nature you would ever have full stores and twenty extra pounds, which the long light and short nights have provided.” (pp. 59-60)
Because of the body’s feedback systems (leptin resistance),
“…your appetite for carbohydrates stays permanently switched on until all of the carbohydrates run out. This mechanism exists because in nature you would never get that fat unless you needed to, because all the food will be gone.
“The problem in the world we live in is that the food (sugar) will never be gone.” (p.60)


* Protein/ fat/ carb use in the body & appetite for them are controlled by separate & distinct substances
“Carbohydrates are energy that can be stored, and they can only be stored by insulin. That’s why you can’t eat fat and get fat; but you do eat sugar and get fat.” (pp. 60-61)


Chapter 4 Notes:

* Evolutionary biology is about how we adapt to survive in our ever-changing environment.
“Survival is having enough sugar to store some for when there is none available.
“Survival was never about eating fat, it was always about making fat.
“Survival, thy name is sugar.” (p. 63) (i.e. Carbohydrate)

* Insulin delivers sugar to cells & tells body to store the excess (as fat, which is lighter since carbs = fuel + water ).

* Prolactin controls appetite. It makes milk & stimulates mom’s immune system into overdrive so baby gets mom’s antibodies in the breast milk (along with a taste for sweet- milk is very high in carbs & adds bulk quickly which baby must have so as not to die of exposure).

It also supresses leptin, thereby controlling appetite throughout the lifespan.

In winter, melatonin keeps prolactin production to night, so we don’t crave sugar (bc it wouldn’t b available anyway), but in an “endless summer” prolactin secretion during day supresses leptin, makes us crave sugar, and stimulates our body’s autoimmune response (hence the so-called “diseases of civilisation” & allergies).

* Leptin is produced by body fat & is supposed to supress the sugar cravings.

* Last ice age changed our metabolism permanently. We had to live on protein & fat most of the year & fruit/ veggies only when in season (which is rare when the grounds are covered in ice/frost. Diet/lifestyle analysis (bone studies) show increased muscularity & height compared to modern humans.

*BONE STUDIES (Emory University anthropologists, as reported in “The Paleolithic Prescription”):

50,000 years ago, Eastern Mediterranean men averaged height of 6’2″ & avg. people were as muscular/ strong as today’s elite athletes– AND they were genetically indistinguishable from modern humans.

Agriculture showed up in human culture about 10,000 years ago, ending the Paleolithic period & starting the Neolithic period: the agriculturally-based lower-fat/ lower-protein/ higher carb (ie 90% carbs)/ disease-ridden period.

So (according to the books):

taming fire (endless summer) + agriculture (endless carbs) + technology/ tools (grinding grain stretches it further to feed more people) = obesity & sickness.

It’s our 2-month anniversary. Hooray!!

10:30am: 2 mini egg cupcakes
11:30am: coffee with coconut milk
2:30pm: coffee with coconut milk
6:30pm: attempted to eat – had a little piece of filet mignon (about 2 oz) and some salad with boiled egg, but it didn’t stay down; because of my medical history, if i get sick, i have to stick with liquids for several hours to several days, so eventually:
9:30pm: so delicious brand coconut milk “ice cream” (non-dairy, non-gluten, sweetened with agave and stevia)

8:30am: egg cupcakes
lunch: chopped broccoli and cabbage salad and salsa-pulled chicken salad
6:30pm: braised beef short ribs, 4 oz filet mignon, sauteed spinach

I found the following info on the website the world’s healthiest foods

“Improved blood sugar regulation has been a long-standing area of interest in research on strawberries and health. However, scientists have recently discovered a fascinating relationship between intake of strawberries, table sugar, and blood sugar levels. As you might expect, excess intake of table sugar (in a serving size of 5-6 teaspoons) can result in an unwanted blood sugar spike. But you might not expect this blood sugar spike to be reduced by simultaneous consumption of strawberries! Yet that’s exactly what researchers have discovered. With the equivalent of approximately one cup of fresh strawberries (approximately 150 grams), blood sugar elevations from simple sugar intake can be reduced. These health science researchers have further speculated that polyphenols in strawberries played a major role in helping regulate blood sugar response. This finding is great news for healthy persons wanting to maintain healthy blood sugar levels, and also for persons with type 2 diabetes who enjoy fresh strawberries and want to enjoy them on a regular basis.”

“In these studies, significant benefits do not emerge until frequency of intake reaches at least 2-3 strawberry servings per week.”


“Given their amazing combination of phytonutrients—including anthocyanins, ellagitannins, flavonols, terpenoids, and phenolic acids—it’s not surprising to find increasing research interest in the anti-inflammatory properties of strawberries. But it’s still exciting to see this remarkable fruit lowering levels of inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein (CRP) when consumed several days per week in everyday amounts of approximately one cup. Recent research has shown that several blood markers for chronic, unwanted inflammation can be improved by regular intake of strawberries. Interestingly, in one large-scale study, consumption of strawberries did not show anti-inflammatory benefits until strawberries were consumed at least 3 times per week. This research is one of the reasons we recommend inclusion of berries at least 3-4 times per week in your overall fruit intake.”

There’s a lot more info on that website. Check it out! 🙂

8:30am: egg “cupcakes” (everyday paleo recipe)
12:45pm: salsa-pulled chicken salad over salad greens
6:45pm: basil & garlic pork sausage with tomato sauce, chopped broccoli & cabbage salad

8:30am: coffee with coconut milk & unsweetened cocoa powder
11:30am: 2 mini & 2 normal egg cupcakes
3:00pm: 1 bison Salisbury steak with cauliflower rice and gravy
6:45pm: basil & garlic pork sausage with tomato sauce, chopped broccoli & cabbage salad
8:50pm: 6 frozen strawberries blended with coconut milk (Paleo ice cream!)


This post is for notes and thoughts about the book “Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar, & Survival” by T.S. Wiley with Bent Formby, PhD.

Using evolutionary biology & biophysics, they posit that our sleep deficit (and the resulting hormone imbalance) is responsible for sugar cravings, obesity, and other “modern” diseases. I know I chronically feel tired, so I’m very interested right now in anything that will help me to feel healthier and release the stranglehold sugar has on my mind, body, and emotions.

According to them, “Sleeping controls eating, eating and stress control reproduction. Sleeping, eating, and making love control aging.” (p. 4)

They go on to say (after a bit of a conspiracy-theory type rant) the following:

“When we asked Dr Thomas Wehr, the head of the department studying seasonal and circadian rhythmicity at the NIH in Washington, whether he felt the public had a right to know that on less than 9.5 hours of sleep a night – i.e. in the dark – they will (a) never be able to stop eating sugar, smoking, drinking alcohol, and (b) most certainly develop one of the following conditions: diabetes, heart disease, cancer, infertility, mental illness, and/or premature aging, he said “Well, yes, they do have a right to know. They should be told; but it won’t change anything. Nobody will ever turn off the lights.”” (pp.5-6)

Interesting. I’ll let you know after I read more!

Chapter One Notes:

* Exercise –> triggers cortisol release (fight or flight.. running=flight)
* Extended exposure to light (i.e. changing natural light/ dark cycles) makes the body think it’s summer, which in nature kicks on the ‘mate now & store fat for the upcoming winter famine’ instinct
* The interplay of high cortisol, artificially extended “daylight”, sugar consumption and insulin response = fatty bodies
* Fat = health; Sugar = disease (I think they’re Paleo)
* Common Opinion –> eat less fat, exercise more & you’ll be healthy; Reality –> people are mostly fatter & sicker


More Ch. 1 Notes:
* Light & dark cycles govern prolactin & melatonin, which govern our immune systems
* Hyperinsulinemia – body’s chronic overproduction of insulin; only occurs with chronic high ingestion of carbs (impossible in nature, unless you lived somewhere that always had fruit/ veggies in season)
Insulin allows blood glucose into cells; insulin resistance means receptors no longer allow insulin to open them so no more glucose can enter the cells (protective mechanism)
“high insulin levels create the same state in the brain as alcohol does” (p.24)
“The spike of insulin after a binge [alcohol or sugar] makes the serotonin in the brain turn into melatonin and it’s lights out…. Sleep it off.” (p.24)

Chapter Two Notes:

* Excess light at night suppresses Melatonin
* Melatonin naturally suppresses sex hormones (estrogen/ testosterone; because it’s safest to breed in summer so babies are born in spring when food is plentiful)
* Excess light at night –> excess insulin, estrogen, testosterone –> diseases and endocrine disorders