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Primal Journal - WhalersGirl

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  • Primal Journal - WhalersGirl

    I'm on day 5 of a Whole30 challenge and decided that it might be helpful if I kept myself honest on here. Specifically, I'm having an epic sugar craving at the moment and I think that doing this will help me get my brain in the right place before 3 o'clock.

    Why before 3, you may ask? I am an intern in a law office full of wonderful people. So wonderful, in fact, that when the tech guy comes to do systems updates he brings a dozen Tim Horton's donuts (and, unfortunately for me, leaves them on the work table that I can see from my office). So wonderful that every Friday we have Ice Cream Time where everyone hangs out, eats a little ice cream, and talks about how their weeks are going. It's a wonderful, thoughtful, communal atmosphere, but this particular Friday has brought me face to face with two of my favorite things in the entire world - donuts and ice cream. So, I'm starting this journal. Have to do something to stop myself from tripping and falling face first into that box of donuts.

    I've been meaning to set down the history that got me to the point of starting my Whole30 because I'm a little concerned that a) I'll cheat, or b) that I'll start to feel so good that I'll think it was all in my head and just go back into my old eating habits willy-nilly. And thus - the story (which as I kept writing it got excessively long, but it felt sort of good to put it all out there) :

    I didn't care at all about food until college. I was thin enough growing up, very active, and my mom was a bad cook. I didn't know this, so it did not strike me as odd that we ate a small range of flavorless, plain foods with astonishing regularity. Had chinese food twice before high school, never had indian food, forget japanese or thai or mexican... very bland diet. However, the college I went to had an incredible dining hall - huge salad bar, tons of variety, so I started learning what all these fruits and veggies and other things were. Tofu? Cottage cheese? Soy milk? Artichokes? Avocado? Nectarines? Coffee? Never until college. Experimented at will, played sports daily, drank too much but stayed relatively thin once I got used to the routine. Even ran a marathon in 4:34 senior year - not so bad. Worked at a summer camp during the summer and became a vegetarian in an attempt to avoid the horrible meat they served at cookouts. WhalersGirl, meet your future arch nemesis, tofu. At the ripe old age of 20 I noticed that my face was getting red and bumpy sometimes. Hello rosacea. Rosacea doesn't start til middle age you say? Hah! I was an early bloomer.

    I was accepted into a teacher training program and headed off to New York to give it a shot. Still didn't know how to cook really, ate lots of tofu and pizza... oh, New York pizza... and drank lots of soy milk, stopped exercising (no time when you're knee deep in lesson plans in a subject you didn't want to teach under a principal who is making your life miserable). These two years I call "the dark period" - constant digestive troubles, poor sleep habits, bad skin, depression and anxiety, and... I'm not sure how to put this but I guess I'll say I started "experimenting" with bulimia. Frequent binging, less frequent throwing up. Finished teaching, moved to another country for 6 months (was supposed to be a year), kept up with the anxiety/depression and the binging/purging and the gross skin and the stomach problems, until I had to cut my trip short by 6 months because I couldn't handle being abroad anymore. I came home completely broken.

    I started reading when I got home and I think that's when I ran across MDA for the first time, but I especially fell in love with Michael Pollan's books. These things, which forced me to examine the effect that food has on a person's life and what kind of relationship I wanted to have with food, changed my life and helped me kick the eating disorder. I stopped eating soy. I forced myself to get over my butter phobia (this took forever, but thank god - I love butter now). The last time I made myself throw up was on my 25th birthday (almost 2 years ago now) and I decided I could never do that again. It's been rare that I've binged since then either. But the weight... always the weight. Tried the CW way, but with more of an emphasis on whole foods while eating some less sugar and processed stuff. I lost about 10 pounds but I was still out of shape and not feeling awesome.

    So now... I'd been reading MDA for a couple of years and couldn't force myself to make the switch. I was living with roommates who I didn't know very well and would get on my case if I ate stuff they thought was weird. I am in law school and don't have much time to cook. Excuses... But I still had the rosacea (which spread to my eyes and makes my vision go blurry sometimes, which sucks SO bad), I was overweight, out of shape (I hardly exercised during the dark period, and I've been inconsistent about running and weight lifting over the last couple years), and I have very low energy coupled with persistent, though less serious, anxiety. My wonderful boyfriend and I were not getting along well because my energy was so bad. I'd go to work all day, come home, and be a lump til I passed out at like 9:00 pm because my energy just left me. He was very understanding and didn't bug me about it, but it made me feel like I was killing our relationship.

    I'd been reading about the Whole30 challenge for some time and I'd been really inspired by the Friday Success Stories on MDA so finally 5 days ago I just decided to start the Whole30 and jumpstart a primal diet with something really strict. I've tried to ease in before and it fails - I tend to let myself slide quickly from 80/20 to about 50/50, so it's nice to have very tight rules to follow, at least to start off. The boyfriend thought I was insane at first, and I think he still does, but I think he understood how frustrated I'd become with my energy levels and rosacea and anxiety, so he was willing to be supportive (if skeptical) for my 30-day challenge.

    Days 1 and 2 seemed fine, but then Day 3 was a nightmare. I was dizzy, I couldn't think, I couldn't keep my eyes open, and I could barely think of what my own name was. Day 4 was a slightly less awful version of this. But today I feel good. I'm not sure if I'm totally over the hump, but at least I could sustain enough coherent thought to bang out this manifesto of poor eating and a bad relationship with food. I'm feeling really lucky about how this is going for many reasons. My boyfriend is an amazing cook and he's been very accomodating and helpful by modifying our meals so that I can eat what I need to eat and he can add rice or cheese or whatever afterwards. Maybe I'll get him switched over to primal eating one day, but for now getting him to have more veggies and less bread is a start. Also, I live near this totally awesome farmer's market - vegetables, meat, seafood, eggs... all for pretty reasonable prices and a huge variety. How could I not want to eat fresh, locally grown food like that? It makes the Whole30 infinitely easier.

    So, this is now officially way longer than I intended when I started writing, but it is 2:57 pm and my sugar craving is gone. That was magical. If nothing else at least I'll have this to come back to whenever I'm feeling gross or craving something I shouldn't eat. Right now I'm finally doing something that will make me stronger, healthier, and happier, and will bring me lightyears away from the sick, anxious, sad person who came home from living abroad and had to rebuild her food relationship from scratch. I've only got one more year of law school and will then embark on a career that I'm incredibly excited about. By the time I get there I want to be a whole new WhalersGirl, or I guess just a WHOLE WhalersGirl. And that fills me with a lot of hope, and a strong commitment to doing whatever I can to get there.

  • #2
    Yay for starting a journal!!! It's a great way to keep yourself accountable, especially if you're being honest in it. I'm on day 4 of switching to PB (just went cold turkey, no easing in to it) and I feel a little light-headed and... weird... for lack of a better word, haha, but a good weird! Anyhow, can't wait to read up on your progress, you can do it! <3


    • #3
      Hey thanks for the encouraging words MisguidedGhost. I know what you mean about "weird." Hope your switching to PB gets easier quickly! At least it's the weekend. It's easier to have a fuzzy head when you don't have to deal with people at work.

      Should keep a food list i guess:

      B: coffee, eggs, jicama salad
      S: macadamia nuts
      L: tomato/meat sauce over eggplant "noodles", swiss chard
      S: more macadamia nuts, more coffee (got so hungry in the afternoon. maybe it's part of switching to PB)
      D: sashimi, cucumber salad

      The boyfriend came up with a solid way for us to eat "pasta" together - we just sliced up an eggplant and sauteed the strips in a little olive oil. They make an amazing substitute for noodles. Adds some nice crunch to the meal, holds the sauce decently, doesn't have too strong a flavor. Yay.

      Still getting really tired at night, but during the day my energy has been pretty good. Guess I just have to wait for my body to get used to fewer carbs. Stayed up til 10:45 like a normal person though. Woooo. Now just hoping that I start to see improvements in my skin so that I can see it working. I did notice that my eye is feeling a little better since I've been eating clean. Was only blurry part of the day yesterday and I woke up and it was fine this morning.

      I hit a bad moment with cravings last night. The town I live in for the summer is super boring and it occurred to me that one of my primary ways of dealing with boredom is either drinking alcohol (moderately, but some) or eating something like ice cream. This will be my first alcohol-free weekend in a while and perhaps my first sugar-free weekend ever. Boring night last night, started wanting ice cream or peanut butter on toast incredibly badly. We were walking through Walmart looking for a fan and passed the food aisles and I just got totally bummed out. Luckily, Ballroom Blitz came on over the speakers and I bugged out with excitement, which killed the food-missing for a while. Also dragged the boyfriend over to Borders to contemplate buying A Dance with Dragons - going to wait for the paperback, but just seeing it was way exciting. It's huge. It's killing me to wait for the paperback version to come out! It's been 5 years! But alas, law school student budget. Anyway... Song of Ice and Fire obsession aside, got today off on the right foot by hitting the farmer's market at 8:00 am for some much needed delicious food. Can't wait to dive into it and get this weekend rolling.


      • #4
        Hi Whalersgirl! You can do it!
        Ancestral Health Info

        I design websites and blogs for a living. If you would like a blog or website designed by someone who understands Primal, see my web page.

        Primal Blueprint Explorer My blog for people who are not into the Grok thing. Since starting the blog, I have moved close to being Archevore instead of Primal. But Mark's Daily Apple is still the best source of information about living an ancestral lifestyle.


        • #5
          Hello!! I feel for you and am there with you! At my school we have "treat fridays". Teachers are assigned fridays throughout the year to bring treats for their colleagues. I kind of dread it but think if I stay out of the lounge I should be able to avoid the satan-sugar and other various evil foods as well. what will I bring?? hard to say, since I will not go in there I really do not want to bring something "I" would eat. lol vicious circle.. chin up! you can do this!

          Created by - Free Calorie Counter

          What am I doing? Depends on the day.


          • #6
            Tim Horton's is evil.


            • #7
              Haha, I agree outlaw48, Tim Horton's is definitely evil. I'm going to say it's more evil than Dunkin Donuts because they have the sour cream glazed donuts... scary.

              athomeontherange, or anyone else who has successfully done this - is there some secret to drinking coconut milk in your coffee and it not looking at tasting gross? I love coconut milk but I put it in coffee and it separate and looks chunky and always makes the coffee taste weird. I noticed you're using it and you seem to love it! Maybe i am just destined for a life of black coffee. my grandpa will be so proud ("In Korea, we drank our coffee black or we didn't drink it at all. That's what the army will do for you.") Anyway, hope the eating style is treating you okay and you're getting enough calories!

              So, I'm already behind on this journal thing. Awesome.
              B: coffee, banana, eggs with salsa and bacon on spinach leaves
              L: chicken salad, jicama salad (can't wait to be done with this jicama salad. Made way too much of it and I can't seem to get through it all).
              S: couple of olives and almonds
              D: lobster, home made sweet potato fries, coconut milk (got really hungry after finishing the lobster).

              Exercise: shooting hoops for half an hour, hit a bucket of balls at a driving range (didn't know how to do that before yesterday - fun, but I whiffed as much as I hit the balls), and two rounds in batting cages - fast pitch softballs.

              B: eggs, sardines, jicama salad, coffee
              L: hamburger patty, more sweet potato fries, half a piece of Helen's Famous Blueberry Pie
              S: blueberries and almonds
              D: broiled shrimp, half a baked potato, unsweetened iced tea

              Exercise: 3 hour hike at Cutler Public Land Preserve in Cutler, ME. AMAZING place - the hike took us through blueberry fields, bogs, woods, and along cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Jeez it was incredible.

              So, I came face to face with my first serious test (donuts aside) of PB living in the form of blueberry pie at Helen's Restaurant in Machias, ME. I almost moved to Machias for the summer and I had been reading about Helen and her blueberry pie since April. Part of me wanted to reject the pie, stick strictly to the diet, and keep up my good streak. I hadn't had flour, butter, or any kind of dessert thing since last Sunday. But I guess this is the kind of situation that calls for 80/20. In all likelihood I will never again be in Machias Maine, in the very heart of blueberry country just as the blueberry season is getting rolling, being served Helen's famous blueberry pie by Helen herself. So yeah, I really wanted some, and I went and got it. Only had half a piece, didn't go for the ice cream, and learned during my hike that my stomach didn't necessarily appreciate my veering from the diet. Something from lunch didn't settle especially well during the hike, and since the pie was the most off-the-rails thing I ate, I will assume it was that. Which is very good to know.

              So a couple of good lessons learned here.
              1) I am going to be careful, but not militant, with my eating habits. One of the worst cycles that I got in during the dark period was being really militant about my food choices for a week or so, slipping up, and then crashing down really hard and binging and worse. Half a slice of pie won't kill me, and heck it won't even really ruin my Whole30. I have been and will continue to be very careful about what I'm eating, and I will not slip up for something stupid like a Tim Horton's donut. Helen, on the other hand? I will slip up for her.
              2) I feel really good without dairy. I don't think there was any in the pie, so I guess that is a little irrelevant. However, I also apparently feel better without flour and shortening. Going for a week without it and then being affected by only a half piece of pie worth? This is a good lesson in how quickly my body can react both to positive and negative changes.
              3) I loooooooove hiking. And I love Maine. And I know the boyfriend never wants to live here again, but maybe I can talk him into it someday, because Downeast Maine is kind of remote living but it's unbelievably beautiful.
              Last edited by whalersgirl; 07-24-2011, 07:59 PM.


              • #8
                One week into the full PB lifestyle - all was going well, until 4:00 pm. Cue self-pity party. Bah.

                My eyes always give me some trouble because of, ostensibly, rosacea (which I'm now sort of questioning - maybe it never was rosacea). But for the last couple weeks I've been putting in my contacts for a few hours on the weekend to play sports or something and waking up the next day with a horribly painful eye. Red, burning, sensitive to light, the works. Finally went to the eye doctor today because I couldn't see properly or keep my eyes open outside. Glad I did. Apparently I've got some eye condition where my eyelids freak out if I wear contacts. I get bumps under my eyelids which scratch my corneas and make everything in there very unhappy. According to the doctor, past flare ups of the condition have left minor scarring on my corneas. Jesus H. Christ. So, I got back in the car, cried more than a little, picked up my prescription, and had the following brief period of angry, reactionary behavior:

                "I went on this diet to clear up my eyes, and it gets worse? I'm back on steroids for my eyes? F*** this man. I'm out. [go to gas station on the way home, buy Chubby Hubby, which is easily my favorite ice cream ever.] Better yet, I'll have a couple of beers too! Hah! And we're having hot dogs tonight? I'll have mine on a bun! yeah! That'll show my stupid eyes for punking out on me yet again, despite my going on this stupid diet." [begin drinking a beer.]

                So, now I'm sitting here with a stomach full of ice cream and beer and it is not awesome. The ice cream tasted really good but it's sitting heavy, and the beer is delicious but... well no buts there. I love beer. But I think it will make my skin look bumpy and red tomorrow - beer is a big trigger for rosacea.

                I calmed down some after a few "f*** you"s to the world, and now I'm just sort of regretting acting like a child who can legally purchase alcohol. This eye thing may not seem like a big deal, but after seeing the eye doctor every 2-4 weeks from October to April and doing everything I can to keep my eyes from flaring up (including avoiding alcohol for long stretches, now finally going on the PB, etc), having another setback with apparently long-term consequences (the scarring) was more than I could deal with for about an hour. So... it's too late for me on the beer and the ice cream, but I've regained my sanity and will be avoiding the buns as I eat these delicious locally made hot dogs from the farmer's market along with some sauerkraut and roasted vegetables.

                So... back on the wagon tomorrow. If nothing else, I guess at least I was able to get my head back in the right place after only an hour. I am also slightly ashamed of myself for getting angry at the PB, like it was at fault for my eyes being allergic to contacts or whatever. This way of eating is an issue of long-term health and slowly helping my body to operate its best. It wasn't going to be a magic cure for my eye issues after just a week, and if I want my eyes to get better I have to help them along in every way I can. I'll get there. Just have to keep in a good head space about it.

                On a side note, my friend Jess has started doing cross-fit and looks almost sickeningly hot. I know it's expensive, but I might have to find a cross-fit gym when I get back to NYC.


                • #9
                  B: eggs with kale cooked in coconut oil, coconut milk in the coffee
                  L: chicken salad with cranberries and walnuts over salad greens/tomato/cucumber
                  S: Macadamia nuts and blueberries
                  D: locally made hot dog with sauerkraut and mustard (on a bun! eep!), roasted carrots/turnips/brussels sprouts
                  Plus all that crap I had while freaking out... Chubby Hubby and a Shipyard Summer Ale

                  7 am: coffee with coconut milk... then didn't want my breakfast yet so I waited a while
                  10 am: kale and eggs, jicama salad (finally!!! I'm done with the jicama salad!)
                  12:00 pm: blueberries and macadamia nuts
                  3:30: London broil, baby spinach, roasted veggies from last night
                  Dinner plan: the edible parts of shrimp boil - so the shrimp and the kielbasa, plus swiss chard and maybe broccoli/zucchini soup.

                  I kind of liked having only the coffee and coconut milk in the morning. I wasn't hungry at all until about 10 so I just waited to eat until I was good and ready to. It was liberating, but a little scary I guess. Back in the dark period I felt like I had completely lost control of my hunger and my eating habits. I felt "hungry" all the time, my blood sugar would swing all over the place, and I would do really weird stuff to constantly eat all day long without people knowing that I was eating all day long. I knew the behavior was weird, and it didn't feel very good, but I couldn't get out of the up and down swings with hunger and needing to eat. Since I've been reintroducing fat and meat into my diet, and now cutting out many of the carbs/grains/sugars, it's easier not to eat. But I got so used to that cycle, eat - get rapidly hungry - eat more - hate myself - get anxious as my blood sugar swung around more - eat more, that I started to get anxiety about going too long between meals.

                  Anxiety is another of the huge reasons that I am trying to go full PB. My eyes are something of an immediate concern day-to-day because I have trouble seeing when they're in bad shape, but the anxiety has really been the long-term issue that pushed me toward PB/eating real, whole foods. I have had lots of theories over the years about what set off my eating disorder in the first place, and I have come to the conclusion that I was probably self-medicating anxiety, depression, and possibly ADHD. I might have been more likely to self-medicate with alcohol but a family history of alcoholism made me hyper-vigilant about not drinking too much when I was stressed out. But food? What mechanism stops you from having too much food? With alcohol at least you can abstain completely, but not so with food. Since I couldn't abstain I'd try to restrict, which would leave me hungry and more anxious and wanting nothing more than to stuff my face into a pie. Long story short, I now associate being away from food for long periods of time with anxiety.

                  These days, I'm frequently capable of telling when I'm physically hungry and when I'm not hungry. But I'm still working on telling the difference between that anxious need to eat something out of habit and actual physical hunger. This problem pops up more when I'm bored or at work sitting in a chair all day than when I'm being active or doing something high stress and exciting. Today, those blueberries were an anxiety snack, not a hunger snack. I guess it's helpful that I know that I'm doing it and, as with all my other crazy eating habits from back in the day, this too will subside as I learn not to worry about it (and I suspect it will subside even more as primal eating helps keep my blood sugar very regular and gets some of the crap out of my diet). Today was a good step, just that act of waiting until I was hungry to eat breakfast. I'm starting to get excited about the idea of doing an IF just to prove to myself that I can do it without losing my mind.

                  One small step at a time.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by whalersgirl View Post
                    athomeontherange, or anyone else who has successfully done this - is there some secret to drinking coconut milk in your coffee and it not looking at tasting gross? I love coconut milk but I put it in coffee and it separate and looks chunky and always makes the coffee taste weird. I noticed you're using it and you seem to love it! Maybe i am just destined for a life of black coffee. my grandpa will be so proud ("In Korea, we drank our coffee black or we didn't drink it at all. That's what the army will do for you.") Anyway, hope the eating style is treating you okay and you're getting enough calories!
                    Have you tried the Coconut Crack Creamer recipe that is floating around somewhere on this site? I tried it yesterday and subbed in coconut butter for the coconut oil in the recipe and added vanilla beans. It is VERY tasty - and even better - it doesn't separate when mixed with coffee.


                    • #11
                      Oh nice. No, I haven't tried that, but that sounds like an experiment for tomorrow morning, definitely. Thanks!


                      • #12
                        I dunno if you've tried this, but one thing I've used as a substitute for pasta over the years is squash. Use a mandoline slicer to cut it in to thin slices, bake the slices in the oven long enough to get a bit of a crisp, and use it instead of lasagna noodles. Or take the mandolined slices, cut them into strips, saute, and use them instead of spaghetti or fettucine noodles.


                        • #13
                          Sorry been away for a few days, just caught up with your posts! Well, I think you're doing awesome. So you had a little moment there with the ice cream and beer, but that's ok. No reason to beat yourself up over it. I was at work the other day and after 5 days of being perfectly Primal, I just HAD to have some frozen yogurt. It was like... a craving that needed to be satisfied instantly, lol. So I went and I got some, and of course instantly regretted it, but... I'm still striving 100% and I think landing at at least 80%, and that works for me. I think you're doing great, keep it up. <3 MG