Saturday, January 30, 2010

The right diet leads to more daily maintenance and I announce this weekend's baking experiment.

For the last few days I've been thinking, "my nails are getting pretty long... I should cut them!" Then two nights ago in the shower the same thought was followed by, "wow, they seem to be growing really fast... I really need to trim these things off before I poke my eye out!"

I've always had pretty healthy natural nails. Occasionally they will break, but for the most part they are strong, long and have been the object of envious glances from some women, usually ones with acrylics.

I used to do things with them as a teen (some things I don't want to admit to, such as growing out a long crack nail, piercing it with a hot paperclip and making jewelery for it) but lately they have just been a nuisance. Even more so now that they seem to be growing out of control! I guess it's probably all the protein I'm eating...

This weekend's baking experiment involves blanched almond flour. I'm going to make a vanilla cake with cherry filling and dark chocolate frosting. If it goes well I'll post the recipe!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Grains trial

I've been just over 2 full weeks with no grains and no dairy, and I'm feeling pretty awesome most of the time. I had planned a small trial of some brown basmati rice with dinner tonight and so far I haven't had any stomach upset or anything, but I noticed that even though I ate 6 oz of meat, a cup of veggies, plenty of fats, and 1/2c of rice for dinner, I'm hungry again. Right now it's about an hour after dinner.

To me, that's an indicator that I got an insulin spike from the rice. I ate the same meal last week with some sweet potato and had no problems. So, even though I had already packed my lunch for tomorrow (a repeat of dinner) I took it all out, threw away the rice, and replaced it with my usual 3 oz sweet potato.

I guess I'm not ready to go back to grains yet :(

That's okay though. I'm really enjoying most of the food so far, I'm not usually hungry, I have few if any cravings, my moods have improved a LOT, I'm exercising fairly regularly and I'm seeing some weight loss.

No complaints here. I never, ever thought I would say this, but I don't even miss the dairy or grains! And to be honest, I like eating sweet potato with my meals more than I enjoyed the rice, hehe.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Summary of the week

Food: Went well! I am sticking with the guidelines I set out to follow. I'm almost a full 2 weeks without grains and dairy. It's not as hard as I thought it would be. I've eaten a lot of sweet potatoes to keep my carbs between 80 and 120 grams. I tend to feel best in that range. Next week I'm going to see how I feel adding a small amount of rice back in. I know I'm not ready to attempt wheat or dairy yet. Maybe I never will be... I think I feel better without those foods. I do miss the dairy, though!

I'm eating between 2000 and 2200 calories most days. I feel satisfied, and I don't really have much in the way of cravings. I did crave sugar and candy briefly the other day, and tonight I made cream cheese frosting for half of the coconut flour carrot cupcakes I made and it looked delicious, but I didn't even sneak a taste. Other than those two instances I have not craved sugar or junk.

Exercise: I had planned out 5 days of workouts last Sunday, and I completed most of them but rearranged some things a bit. The plan was Monday through Friday walk 60 minutes in the morning before work, and each evening a short strength workout. This is how the week shaped up...

Monday - 45' walk, 3x5 back squat
Tuesday - skipped all together due to feeling sick but caught up strength Weds
Wednesday - 35' run plus walking to total 45 mins, 3x5 deadlift, 3x5 press
Thursday - skipped in favor of sleep
Friday - skipped out of laziness, caught up Sat
Saturday - planned rest day, but did 60' walk, 3x5 overhead squat, snatch practice

So, based on this week I know that I need to keep concentrating on getting enough sleep, and just be disciplined enough to do the planned workouts. I am loving the strength workouts, though. I feel so good when I am done!

Other than the food and exercise, I am still meal planning. Another thing I love that makes my life easier. It really saves me from agonizing over what to make at the end of the day when I'm already tired and don't feel like cooking. With the meal plan and a little prep on Sunday afternoon, I'm good to go except for cooking and cleanup for the rest of the week. I have posted next week's mealplan. I'm going to try for a little less chicken in the menu this week.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Quick check-in

I've wanted to post the last couple days but it seems like I've been 'busy' a lot.

This week I started a workout schedule. I've deviated from it a little, but only one day was out of laziness.... the other was because I felt sick.

The goal was a 60 minute walk in the morning Monday through Friday, and a short strength session each night (alternating muscle groups). I completed 45 minutes of walking Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (and I plan on going tomorrow morning), and strength Monday and Wednesday. Wednesday's strength session combined what I missed on Tuesday, too.

A little sore, but am so far mostly enjoying it. I LOVE lifting weights!

The food is going well, too. I've successfully avoided grains, dairy, and most sugar except for a little honey. I'm eating quite a bit of vegetables, for me, anyway.

The only thing that's really getting me is that I feel like I'm getting sick. Sometimes I'll get a sore throat, or my ear will start hurting. Most days I'll get a headache in the afternoon, even though I'm eating balanced meals. Today I felt just generally in pain. I had a toothache for about an hour, and some shooting pains in my arms and hand, and I feel achey. Right now I feel just generally unwell. I'm not sure what's going on, but it's definitely frustrating.

Well, off to bed so I can get as close to 8 hours as possible, then to the gym in the morning!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Tales of rare beef and baked apples

I feel freaking awesome today!

I cooked at home all weekend (except for breakfast today) and even though it was a bit of a pain at times I may be getting the pay off today. I feel great!

Last night for dinner I made rib eye steaks and green beans, and for dessert I made an apple crisp with 4 huge braeburn apples, cinnamon, coconut flour, almond meal, and not quite an ounce of honey. The steak was almost mooing. Sooo delicious.

For breakfast this morning we went out and I had 2 eggs overeasy and a dish of blueberries and apples.

I updated the sidebar with this week's menu plan =)

Saturday, January 16, 2010

More improvements, and paleo dieters come out of the woodwork -- finally.

Last night's Lemon halibut and sides. Amazing!

Every day I can feel my guts normalizing, and all the other uh... gut functions... seem to improving, too.

Most days my energy levels are pretty even. I attribute this to the fact that I'm not overeating carbs, but am spreading out a reasonable level of carbs throughout all meals.

I've stopped the potato at night, in favor of 2 to 3 ounces of sweet potato with lunch and dinner. So far, so good.

I was amazed and elated to see this post, by Richard Nikoley at Free the Animal, in which he bravely admits to experiencing some issues which he attributes to the paleo lifestyle.

When I tried (and failed) switching to paleo last April, and then my attempt with low carb, and most recently my third attempt at paleo, I searched high and low to find someone, anyone who was experiencing similar problems (thyroid downregulation, depression, digestion, etc). Almost everyone I encountered vehemently defended the lifestyle. No one would admit that maybe they had a little trouble adapting to it or, like me, couldn't last more than a couple weeks without experiencing a physical and mental meltdown. I knew there must be someone out there... maybe the were all hiding?

But diet has become a fair bit like radical religion. We faithfull follow the plan we want so desperately to believe in, and even if we experience problems along the way, once we make up our mind that it's the right way we are willing to die for it.

Maybe that's little dramatic, but there is truth to it. For many of us interested in nutrition and improving our health, Our Chosen Diet has become the golden calf.

Anyway, I generally find people who are nutrition oriented to be articulate and outspoken, and usually very well reasearched. Personally, I do a lot of research, understand the concepts, and know how to apply them, but lack in the communication, discussion, and debate part. Maybe there are other people out there like me, who have experienced problems transitioning to a paleo or low carb lifestyle but are afraid to speak out for fear of being squashed by the outspoken, articulate majority.

Look for next week's menu plan soon.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Dinner success

Tonight's dinner was Macadamia and herb crusted chicken, garlic green beans, and a potato (sweet potato for me).

It was a hit! My husband went nuts over it and I thought it was pretty darn good too. It was nice to have something delcious after last night's awful experience =)

My picture taking skills leave a little to be desired, but you get the idea.

Starting over. Yes, so soon.

I listen to a lot of low carb propaganda. I enjoy listening to low carb propaganda, and nutrition research, and I have a twisted side of me that enjoys hearing about how we have not evolved to eat grains and how loads of fat and meat and veggies is the best way to eat and on and on....

The original name for this blog was 'Paleo for PCOS' because I was going to chronicle my experience with a strict 30 day paleo diet and write about how much better I feel not eating grains and keeping my carb intake low, and some big miraculous change was supposed to happen and guess what?

Not gonna happen.

And right now I'm just going to squash any murmurings about how long it takes for your body to adapt to burning fat for fuel instead of carbs, how you feel awful until it does, how you can feel 'so fabulous' eating low to no carbs, how grains contain addictive substances and I'm probably just experiencing withdrawal, how your body doesn't need carbs to function, how your body actually prefers to burn ketones instead of glucose....

I've heard it all. I even believe most of those things are true for a majority of folks. But for me? Not here, not now.

There is a disconnect between head knowledge and what my body is telling me. My body tells me that I feel best eating a small, reasonable portion of starchy food with meals, alongside a nice serving of protein and a generous serving of vegetables and some fat. I walk away feeling satisfied, I enjoy my meal more. I can lose weight eating (some types of) grains. I know because I have done it before.

My body also tells me that when I don't eat at least some starchy foods with meals I become bitchy, moody, depressed, and overly sensitive. I know this because in the last year I have tried to eliminate grains 3 times and twice I have become an obsessive, depressed, ready-to-snap-at-any-moment monster and the other time I got a bladder infection and my digestive tract hit the 'stop elimination' button.

Granted, my body is messed up. My unhealthy body has led to an unhealthy mind, which doesn't regulate my moods and hormones very well.

I know that I feel better with exercise, because last year when I was CF'ing, I felt awesome most of the time. That is, until I tried eliminating grains.

For now, I'm going to follow some very basic food rules which I will list in a later post. Rules which I know will allow me to stabilize my moods, even if I don't lose weight right away.

Then, I'm going to focus on creating a regular habit of varied exercise.

I will not get distracted by macronutrient ratios, flashy programming, how many calories I'm eating or improving my (insert WOD here) time.

I want to lay a rock solid nutritional foundation that allows me to feel like a stable person and develop healthy exercise habits.

New, more basic plan coming soon.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Broth, mayo and Day 3 check-in

I made broth on Sunday and yesterday I tried for the second time ever to make homemade mayonnaise.

Success on both counts!

The first time I attempted to make mayo I tried a recipe that included coconut oil. It kinda seized up and got weird and almost rubbery. Yuck.

For the second attempt I used a recipe that called for olive oil, walnut oil and/or flax seed oil. I used a combination of olive and walnut. It's delicious! I've never much of a fan of mayo, and even less so since I stopped eating soy. ALL mayo you can get in the regular grocery store is made with sub-par, probably rancid and chemically deodorized oils, usually soybean. Even the health food store stuff, like safflower mayo, just doesn't taste great. This was easy, and with the help of my food processor, in a couple minutes I had delicious, creamy, fresh tasting mayonnaise.

Well, I'm on day 3 of my eating plan. Yesterday and today I have been absolutely ravenous at different points during the day. Today I had a 7 ounce piece of chicken for lunch and a fair bit of asparagus in olive oil and lemon, and an hour later my stomach started to growl. Soon, I was so hungry I could hardly concentrate.

I think I'm craving fat. I am going to try not restricting my fat so much (haha, even though I eat a lot more fat than many 'dieters' do) and seeing if it helps my hunger. If not, I'll stick with moderate fat and try adding a small serving of sweet potato or regular potato at lunch and breakfast... maybe 2 ounces.

When I got home I had my planned 1/2 an apple and 2 (er, make that 3...) ounces of almond butter... the 'grind it yourself kind'. I am not 'full', but the hunger has calmed down significantly. Yummy fats.

Omega 3 mayonnaise (from The Natural Diet Solution for PCOS and Infertility)

1 tbsp lemon juice
1 whole egg
1/4 tsp dry mustard
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup flaxseed oil
1/3 cup walnut oil
(or any combination of these oils to equal 1 total cup of oil)

Put lemon juice, egg, and mustard into a blender or food processor. Blend for 5 seconds. With the blender or processor on low, slowly add oils in a thin stream. Blend until mayo is thick. Store in a sealed container for up to 7 days (I think this is pushing it... I'd try to use it by 5 days at most)

The mayo and broth may have been a success, but I seem to be striking out with meals this week. I think tonight was the biggest failure and I was so disappointed I had a bit of a breakdown. I've just been so hungry the last couple days and I was really looking forward to having some beef. The cut of beef I chose was uh... not the most tender cut, and I broiled it and it was just awful. Then the bok choy I made was not to my liking. I had half a potato instead. Overall, a huge disappointment.

I've noticed already, as I have previously when I cut out grains, that I seem to be way moodier and just bitchier than I usually am at this time of the month. I am still planning on sticking it out for 30 days if I can, but as I mentioned above I think I'll add small servings of potatoes back into my plan. When I do eat grains again, gluten free steel cut oats and whole grain rice will be the first on the list. I do really well with rice... I don't have a problem overeating it unless it's the white stuff, and I enjoy oatmeal. I've never noticed any bad reactions from these foods and sometimes I feel really great when I eat them. I think the key will be keeping my portions small.

With how I'm feeling right now I really want to give up. I'm majorly disappointed that it seems like no matter how I eat my body is not liking it. I'm bitchy and emotional right now, at a time of the month when I usually feel pretty good. I've been ravenous lately. But on the other hand I have felt more even at work (most of the time) and it feels like maybe my brain isn't quite as foggy as it has been.

For now I'm going to go ahead and stick with it. I'll keep posting about how I'm feeling.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Day 1 check-in and a peek at my disorganized thoughts

Well. My first day is coming to a close. Right now I am debating the merits of aiming for slower change instead of trying to change a bunch of stuff at once. Some things went really well today and some things didn't.

The good:
didn't experience much 'true' hunger today
no afternoon headache, which has been plaguing me for several weeks
felt more mentally 'clear', though this could be related to my cycle

The bad:
ate way more fat than I was aiming for. I had planned my second snack to be 1/2 an apple and 2 oz of chicken. Instead of the chicken I ate 1.5 oz of macadamia nuts. =\
by the time the day is up I will have gone over my carb allowance by about 30 grams, and will be under my protein goal by about 20 grams.

So, I am not sure where to go from here. Part of me wants to just say, "well, at least I'm avoiding grains and dairy" but then I am upset with myself for missing my macronutrient goals.

I feel conflicted and confused, like perhaps I am still approaching things as a 'diet' that I will end up going off of rather than as a lifestyle change.

Here's what I think:
having small servings of carbs from fruit and veg throughout the day really helped keep my head clear, so I will stick with that.

eating the leaner meats and having most fats from nuts and olive oil helped my mental state, so I want to keep that.

eating a lot of lean protein helped keep me full.

eating more veggies is good for me!

I need to work on eating fewer nuts since they really threw me off my goals today.

I still want to try a full month off of grains and dairy.

So, based on those things, tomorrow I will:
stick with 12 grams of carbs per meal/snack from veggies and limited fruits
stick with my protein goals
have 1 oz or less of macadamia nuts
have no grains or dairy

Still have dinner to eat tonight, and I will probably have 1/2 a potato before bed =)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

The Plan

The nutrition plan I've come up with is mostly paleo, with allowances for an occasional potato to keep up my serotonin levels. I'll be eating a gram of lean protein per pound of body weight, so about 180 grams, 60 grams of carbohydrate foods spread throughout the day, and approximately 50 grams of fat coming primarily from olive and nut oils.

I've also come up with a dinner menu plan for the entire week. I'll post that in the sidebar weekly. The potatoes/rice you see listed are for my husband :)

I know I'm going to have a challenge with avoiding grains and especially dairy. I've heard from many different sources that the foods we are often so devastated to think of giving up are often the ones we have sensitivities to and need to avoid the most. Grains and dairy products definitely fit the bill for me.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

About me and what I have tried in the past

Hi! I am a 27 year old woman with PCOS and I plan to use this blog primarily to chronicle my journey to better health and reduction of symptoms through proper nutrition and supplementation.

Basically, I want to kick some PCOS butt with lifestyle changes.

Like most people I have a long and extensive history of trying different things, sometimes successfully, and sometimes not so much. My most recent 'success' was losing 20 lbs last year through lots of exercise (CrossFit!) and mostly moderate diet changes. I have gained about 15 of that back since I stopped CF a couple months ago, and a lot of the more unpleasant symptoms of PCOS have come back with a vengeance.

Initially, I created a blog to chronicle my attempt at 30 days of The Paleo Diet (eliminating all grains, sugar, dairy, and most starches. The diet relies on mostly lean protein and vegetables), but the longer I thought about it the more apprehensive I became. Technically a Paleo diet would exclude potatoes, sweet potatoes and yams, but I feel really good eating limited quantities of those foods. More about that later.

In the past I have tried a 30 day Paleo challenge and by day 18 I was depressed and exhausted. I also attempted a low carb diet in December and by day 18 I was fatigued, dizzy, depressed, and ended up with a UTI. I have not been able to figure out exactly why 2 1/2 weeks seems to be my sticking point with low carb diets. At first I thought that it was affecting my thyroid, since the symptoms I experienced the first time around made me feel like I did before I started thyroid medication. The second time around I thought perhaps it was low potassium, since I was eating a very low level of carbs (< 20 g), but supplementing with potassium didn't help.

My current theory is that at about 2 1/2 weeks into a low carb diet my serotonin decreases significantly and I begin to experience symptoms of depression. Since a serving of simple carbohydrates will shuttle tryptophan (the amino acid that makes serotonin) across the blood-brain barrier where your brain can actually use it, I've decided to keep limited quantities of potatoes with skin and sweet potatoes in my diet. I've also started taking 100mg of 5-htp at night to help build up my levels of tryptophan and serotonin.

So, that's a little of what I've tried during the last year. I've heard but never really realized until this most recent failure, that every time you 'yo-yo' the weight comes back on easier. Well, I can tell you that the symptoms also get worse.

I have many of the physical symptoms of PCOS, though a lot of the things that really trouble other women aren't actually that bad for me. I have some abnormal hair growth, but it's mild. I have acne, but it's usually pretty mild. My periods are mostly regular. I have cysts, insulin resistance, and obesity (especially in my midsection). Pretty much all of my sex hormones, stress hormones, and thyroid hormones are out of balance.

But probably the worst part of the syndrome for me is how it affects my moods and my brain function. Most of this is probably related to the hormone imbalance. Anyone who's ever experienced this will tell you how miserable it is to have crazy hormones. At any given time I may be depressed, uncontrolably angry, completely unmotivated, unable to make a decision, unable to concentrate, unable to focus. It's the mental symptoms that are the most humiliating for me. Sometimes I have a difficult time understanding the most simple things. The 'lightbulb over the head' doesn't often turn on for me.