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The Girl Goes Primal - Primal Journal of a Sleep Deprived, London Lass

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  • The Girl Goes Primal - Primal Journal of a Sleep Deprived, London Lass


    So, I'm a little later than planned in starting this journal, but I'm here now and happy to be sharing my experiences of the 30 day challenge! Like lots of you here, I recommitted to my Primal ways on Monday and on the most part, I'm not doing so bad!

    Like many of you, I've been 'broadly' primal, in my eating habits at least, for some time, but wanted to re focus on my eating as some legume and dairy creep has started to take it's toll.

    But more importantly, I want to focus on some of the other areas in the Primal Blueprint: Sleep and Fitness.

    Three and a half years ago, in April 2008 I looked like this:

    A few months later, I looked like this:

    By November I looked like this (57kg/125lb):

    And in February 2009 I had turned into something approximating an emaciated 12 year old!! In this last picture I weighed in at 55kg/121lbs...

    These days I look pretty much like this!

    But the pounds have crept on and on Monday I weighed in at 65kg/143lb.

    My target weight is about 58kg/127lb - but I'm far more about how I feel and look than what the numbers say....

    So, the challenge has come at the perfect time for me. I'm going to focus on 3 main areas:


    As I said my clean eating has slipped a little and a few pounds have crept on... my clothes are a bit tight. I definitely don't feel like I Look Good Naked. A bit pudgy, a bit bloated and a bit blobby.... And I don't want to just get back to skinny fat. I want to lean up and feel healthy and strong. It's so not about the number on the scales and much more about my health and fitness and my self esteem. years of obesity took it's toll on my immune system and for me, it's so important for to keep well and I need to support my body by giving it the right foods.

    I have a number of allergies (including to different foods), asthma, a history of inflammatory joint pain. I've had 2 discectomies, at the ages of 24 and the 27. Eating Primal/Paleo - even though I didn't know that's what I was doing - has turned much of that around, but I still struggle with dairy products and with legumes from time to time - oh the cravings for milk in my tea (so English!) and for hummus and chickpea pancakes!! Terrible.

    As a result of my food allergies I'm already totally Grain Free, Nightshade Free and I also don't eat lots of the fruits within the 'Rose' food group i.e. apples, pears, peaches, plums, cherries. I try to keep my sugar consumption low as I suffer big time from highs and lows and then cravings. This is made worse by giving into the dairy. Again, mega cravings. Legumes - I don;t get massive cravings for, but somehow I always think they'll be fine and the lesser of several evils, end up eating them and then getting sick.

    So my food commitment for this 30 days is : NO Dairy (not even sheep or goat), NO legumes. Carbs under 80g a day.

    I may also experiment with my relationship with coffee and chocolate! (eek - did I really just type that out loud?!)


    I really struggle with getting enough sleep. It impacts on my life in such a major way. My mood, my effectiveness at work, my ability to mange my diet and the energy to move about enough.

    Sleep, or lack of it, is probably the most crucial factor in my ability to manage all sorts of things in life. For a period in my life, I threw myself into my work. I'd got a few promotions and wanted to prove I was worthy of them and was also totally scared! In order to stay awake longer and later so that I get more hours of work in, I used food for energy and that combined with stopping smoking led me to that delightful place of 106kg/233lb that you see at the top of this post!

    I'm not really sure what stops me sleeping. Itís my biggest area for self sabotage. Of course the staying up too late reading MDA comments and forum posts don't help! But neither do coffee and sugar...

    So my sleep challenge is to get to be bed and have the lights off, in time to get 8 hours sleep a night. And hopefully to actually get the 8 hours!!


    At the moment I'm getting in a good level of enjoyable low impact cardio, alongside the odd Body Weight workout. But these are far from being well built into my schedule and I think I have only managed 4 sprint sessions in the last 3 months!!

    I live in a part of London where the riots hit recently and really want my functional fitness to help me keep out of trouble if need be. I need to be able to sprint, get myself over walls etc etc etc!

    Plus, I'm going to Australia in December to see my brother who lives there. The last time I went I had a BMI of 40!! And consequently wasn't able to really make the most of my time there. Not this time!! I want to look and feel great and be able to walk, climb, run, swim and make the most of the amazing landscape.

    So, my fitness challenges are:

    Keep up my usual levels of low level cardio - making the most of what is left of the warmer weather and light evenings with walks and runs outside

    2 Lifting Heavy things sessions a week

    1 HIT session a week - I think for me this means sprints!!

    I've set up a blog to document this journey too - the girl goes primal. There are some more before and after pics there, more wonderings, my daily food diaries and some recipes and food porn!

    I'll try and keep both updated daily...

    And now... Time for an early night! I have a sleep challenge you know!


  • #2
    So, I got my 8 hours on Thursday night and then napped a bit during the day on Friday - Super tired! And food cravings... PMT? who knows?!

    Anyway - here is Friday's food diary:

    Now that is a lot of food.... But, my carbs are under 80g, and no contraband! So I am trying not to give myself too much of a hard time.

    And as for fitness - well, let's just say today was a rest day ;-)


    • #3
      the girl goes primal: Day 6 - Coconut Butter!!!!

      So - here's the link to Saturday.

      A valiant attempt at Lifting Myself and a culinary coconut revelation! Who knew that if you blended desiccated coconut, it turn into the coconut version of Nut Butter?! Life changing. Especially once chilled and cut up! I suggest you do it. Now!


      • #4
        Is this much chocolate too much chocolate?!

        So today has been a good day I think?! Progress Report...

        Sleep: Only 5 hours last night... Not so good. But again, I did wake up naturally, just very early.

        Food - all within my pre set limits and carbs well within range....

        Fitness A good day out walking in the autumn sunshine. Lovely. Some hills, some rocks, some playing and lots of photography. There are some extra pics on the blog if you're interested!

        I can't believe this is the end of week 1. I'm feeling really well. Have a weird mix of tiredness and boundless energy!? I think the tiredness is my normal lack of sleep and irregular sleep pattern. And maybe the full of energy is my system cleaning up? What ya reckon?

        I'm totally amazed at my lack of cravings. Especially as I'm really tired now. It's 2.00 am and I need to have been asleep hours ago...

        Ordinarily, I'd have spent the day today craving more and more food, particularly milk and particularly sugar - usually in the form of Cadbury's Dairy Milk - the thought of which is doing nothing for me right now!? But today I just haven't, despite the lack of sleep.

        I wonder if this really is about dairy being a trigger food?

        So - BIG question. Chocolate? I've eaten A LOT of 90% chocolate this week. The sugar is really low, so I'm not so worried about that - am I right to? It doesn't seem to drive me wild like he aforementioned dairy milk. And I think the extra fat may have helped with the transition?

        But I'm certainly not enjoy chocolate in the 'occasional indulgence' way....

        I find it's a really useful non-perishable snack food. I haven't ever this week sat and ploughed my way through a bar. Or even half a bar. Rather, I've grazed on it in little tasters in between or even instead of main meals...

        So, will it be doing me harm? Or is this an ok way of getting some extra fat in my diet and keeping me satisfied?

        And obviously - the elephant in the room - is it what's keeping me from sleeping?

        Some self experimentation to come???!!!


        • #5
          Day 8 - Bleurgh....

          So today has been super hard for this not so super, super gaily girl...

          I just could not get to sleep last night... Totalled 5hrs again... That's 3 nights in a row. Today I've been good for nothing. Forgetting things, dropping things, spilling and bashing into things...

          And BAD sugar cravings =( I had a bit more fruit than normal - but kept carbs under 80.

          I'm feeling really bloated though. Have done all day...

          So - here is the food diary...

          And now for an early night.

          (Did have yummy steak for dinner)

          (Oh, and have taken pics of 2 fav recipes, Slow Roast Belly of Pork and Chocolate Mousse - will post soon!!)

          Night all...


          • #6
            Day 9.... Oops!

            Day 9.... Oops!

            Well it all went pear shaped with an extra glass of wine and some dessert. Actually it was mango shaped. A pre frozen dessert of blended coconut cream, mango, passion fruit and fresh lime juice. Delicious, but 44g of carbs!

            ho hum,

            The low down:

            Sleep: 9.5 hours (woooohoooooo!) but still yawning
            Fitness: Walk 2 hours and 2 more hours of mega house work
            Food: 25g over carb limit

            But - still no dairy (although I had to seriously restrain myself from 2 cups of tea and had to step away from the goats cream in waitrose). Goat's cream might be ok, but i think I need a longer 'clean' period before experimenting...

            I've got visitors staying for the rest of the week, so I get the added challenge of not succumbing to various temptations... Must read that post about the treat mob! ;-)

            I have to show you lunch! It was soooo tasty and so cute!

            I had a couple of these rolls. I defy anyone to suggest a cheese and pickle sarnie is tastier or better looking than that!

            Other dilemma is still about my protein packs. They are full of dairy, but I have never seemed to react to them. They are the packs I used when I lost the bulk of my weight (233lbs, down to 130lbs - or there abouts). I did a VLC diet that averaged 500-600 cals a day, using 4 of these packs. I've carried on using them either to support IF days or as meal replacements or even for a spell of quick weight loss.

            I've wanted to cut them out entirely as I don't want to be 'dependent' on them anymore, and nor do I want the dairy. But they do help. Or at least I think they do?! I've had 3 since the start of the challenge, so don't think they instigate cravings....

            I have been a bit wheezy the last few days as well as having some nasal congestion. Hard to know if it's environmental or food related... I am trying very hard to think that it isn't chocolate! I'm pretty sure that sulphites are often used in the the processing of cocoa and I've been eating more 90% chocolate than usual. Not more chocolate, but more 90%, and if it's a higher percentage does that mean more sulphites too? I've upped my inhaled steroids as I don't want to not be able to exercise... But such dilemmas. If it is food based, it means cutting packs and chocolate and then experimenting.... Harrumph. Not impressed... 2 foods that just work for me... I guess I need to do some more unpicking before I catastrophise!

            Ok - time for bed. I can still get my 8 hours in if I'm quick!

            Night all


            • #7
              Day 10 - SPRINTS and feeling GOOOOOOOD!!!!

              Sleep: 6hrs
              Fitness: 25 minutes interval training (including 5 min walking warm up) on treadmill and elliptical trainer!! Woohoo!!! I did it. I am such a non runner - but boy did I work hard! I sprinted for 1.5 or 2 minutes and then slow jog or fast walk for the same. I ran about 13kph - so not hugely fast, but it's a bit scary on the treadmill!

              I rewarded myself with a lovely swim.. Had the pool to myself and the sun was shining through the water. I'm such a water baby, it always slightly annoys me that I have to come for air. Well I can come up much less often now. I'm stronger and I have bigger/more efficient lungs I reckon.

              I'm just going to do some push ups and maybe try a few pull ups and then going to grab an early night whilst in nice and quiet.

              Food: Ate more than I needed too - but all good other wise! Less chocolate today - was on the 99%! and no protein packs. Less wheezy again, but asthma meds still up...

              I've been having a 'good' day and reflecting on how far I've come. There some ways to go, especially with my sleep and fitness - but I'm on it. I'm getting there! I have lots of questions and lots of reading and learning to do. But it's good!

              So - thoughts and feelings...

              I've been battling the urge to weigh myself. And really recognise how much 'self talk' goes on for me about food, the odd lb here or there. It takes up more time and energy than it should. It's a life long habit. And the fear I had when I first lost all my weight lingers on. The fear of waking up 100lbs heavier. Irrational? Crazy? Probably, but definitely there...

              I guess that 10 days in, I'm hoping that primal blueprint and this challenge may give me some freedom from the obsessing and the counting and the recording and the guilt trips and the giving myself a hard time. I just don't need to do with this way of living. It doesn't need measuring. I don't think...

              It struck me so hard today as I pulled myself through the water, with ease... and joy. I am a fit, healthy, blessed individual. I've taken charge of my health and am doing the best for me that I can, It doesn't have to be perfect. I don't need to be the best at any of it. I just need to live. This way, no fuss, no drama. Eat well, sleep well, play, move about and enjoy being in my body.

              It wasn't so long ago that this wasn't the case though. And I forget how disabled I was by my size and how debilitating and limiting it was. Everything was a struggle, physically. Walking - hopeless - I drove everywhere because my feet killed me after about 5 minutes of standing. Then there was the name calling and assumptions. I'm sure I projected a lot of that, but still. Getting on a plane was just awful. Seat belts only just, at a pinch doing up, the table hitting my belly before it got to be flat... I was so ashamed and just couldn't admit it...

              Then there was my health. My asthma had me in and out of hospital and on vast amounts of steroids. My back was agony and really limited the kinds of activities I could do. I had problems with my skin, with my guts and was stressed beyond belief.

              The pre holiday anxiety I used to experience was awful. Even the last few years since I lost my weight, the pre holiday trauma has still been huge. With the dieting timed so the lbs cam off right up until the very last minute. And If I didn't reach my target, then the holiday would somehow be spoiled...

              If you said to me - now, right this minute, Gail you can go on holiday now, right away, I'd be thrilled, excited, ecstatic!! And - even more significant for me, I could pack a bag with clothes that fit, without having to try everything on. I know my clothes will fit and that I won't have gained 10lb or 6 lb or 5lb over night.... it happened! Often... This is a first. Up until starting the challenge, I was still experiencing vast fluctuations in my size on a daily basis. I can't tell you what an enormous relief it is...

              10 days in and I'm convinced - no more legumes. No more non grass grains. NO MORE DAIRY!!!! It pains me to say it, but it would pain me even more to eat it! This diet works for me and I have had zero discomfort from eating for the last 10 days. This follows significant discomfort most days for the past, well, nearly 3 years. I just need to remember!

              I'm feeling hopeful and optimistic.

              I've posted some more about my main weight loss journey on my blog. It wasn't primal, but it was some way there in that it was ketogenic. I like to think it paved the way.. Paved the Path to Primal. I must do some reading on here about VLC diets and see what the community has to say. All i know is 11g of fat a day ain't going to keep any self respecting Cave Girl smiling!
              And now - PRESS UPS!!!


              • #8
                Checking and Catching Up

                OK - So, I've slacked with my journal for a few days - but really because I was busy going primal and trying hard to get some sleep!

                I've posted the last few days challenge updates on the blog. the girl goes primal

                Sleep - getting better
                Fitness - More body weight sessions needed, but otherwise good
                Food - I've just eaten to much the last few days. But, I've had a social time with friends staying, birthday parties and going out to dinner and so I'm not going to give myself a hard time. I've stuck to my rules though. And I've kept my carbs low, around the 50g mark, even with all that's been going on. Including Birthday cake! I made the walnut brownies from the Primal Blue Print recipe book for my friends Birthday. Yum. Still, feeling a bit blobby and am going to try and lean lean things out a bit next week. I've definitely eaten when not hungry and more than needed... Not the end of the world though!

                I got excited reading Mark's post about mini challenges. I realised I was well on the way with lots of them - including clearing out the last of the legumes from the kitchen on Friday!


                • #9
                  Sleep: 7 hours (tired today!!)
                  Fitness: Rest day - but standing all day...

                  Better - but I have definite dairy guts from the lighterlife packs... I did have 3 though....

                  Has brought my carb level up overall and I have to say, I think I'd rather not have had them... I haven't had anything like my usual tired day cravings, but the dairy and the sweetness in the packs isn't great.

                  Will carry on experimenting.

                  I've done lots of cooking this evening, pigeon salad and then rabbit stew.

                  The rabbit will get portioned up for meals for the week and some for the freezer. Am hoping it's not too rubbery! Why does rabbit go like that? The recipe and photos are here: the girl goes primal: Day 15!!! Start of week 3 with rabbit and pigeon

                  Am really tired tonight, so off to bed for me.


                  • #10
                    Day 16!! Over half way through the 30 days, bit to be honest, I'm pretty sure I don't need to be counting days anymore... This is me.

                    Sleep: 8 hours (but with 1/2 a nytol)
                    Fitness: 30 min Sprints session (with some photography at the end, it was such a beautiful evening)

                    Not to bad - still under my 80g carbs and still no dairy!

                    I've just discovered this amazing space near me. It's a bit of waste land that the council have cleared and mown paths in. There are trees (to climb!), hills to sprint up, benches to jump on and off and blackberries to forage for! I would never have found it had it not have been for this challenge!

                    It was amazing up there this evening in the sunshine. Incredible views across South London and I had the whole place to myself to do my sprints and jumps. There are some photos of the views and the sunset on my blog. Lovely!

                    And now I must go - I just burnt a 1lb of pumpkin seeds (was making pumpkin seed butter), not paying attention in the kitchen.

                    Oh, btw, the rabbit stew was awesome!


                    • #11
                      Day 17 and sooooooooooooo tired......

                      Sleep: 5 hours (I am sooooooooooooooooo tired)
                      Fitness: a bit of a walk and started to do body weight circuit, but just no energy... Feeling a bit disappointed with myself... But I know I'm tired, should rest and catch up on sleep:

                      Terrible day food wise - stayed primal, but just have eaten so much and have that old sugar craving.... Am really thirsty too. I reckon I've drunk about 5 litres of water today. That's 10 pints! I'm sure it's just about being tired, but I also wonder if yesterday and today's higher crabs are impacting too...

                      Concerted effort to keep carbs really low tomorrow! Or maybe not low, just nothing too sugary, no parsnip, no carob!

                      And now, I'm going to have a soak in the bath, chill out and get an early night. I've put clean sheets on the bed, so it'll be lovely to get into.


                      • #12
                        Just writing to say hello! from a fellow London girl also on the Primal challenge. We have a similar kind of goal weight too. Good luck with it!
                        Well and happy - Journalling a primal life in London


                        • #13
                          Hey - great to hear from a fellow Londoner! How's it going for you? I'm resisting weighing myself, but not feeling like I've lost any weight... But I am feeling well in terms of my digestion and my fitness is improving which is great! I love tahini too ;-] Good luck to you too!


                          • #14
                            Day 18 - no sleep, headaches and twisted guts...

                            Sleep: 4 1/2!!??
                            Fitness: 12 mins 30sec on/off sprints
                            22 min swim (cos it was a lovely day)
                            30 min body weight circuit

                            A better food day.

                            But I've had 'twisting' guts for the first time in weeks and a crippling headache earlier in the day. Not sure if it's lack of sleep, the dairy in the protein shakes (most likely) from the other day, or something else. Just having eaten too much yesterday?! I feel like i've been 'glutened' but I know I can't have been...

                            The headache could be caffeine withdrawal I guess? I usually have 1 cup of fresh decaf coffee in the morning. A couple of times last week I had a cup of mixed caf/decaf. But, given the lack of sleep, I figured I should quit all coffee, even the decaf... I don't know if that would cause my cramping too?

                            Last night was bizarre - I fell asleep pretty quickly, which is unusual for me, but was awake by 4 a.m. and very wide awake! Still I haven't been too tired today, and am still wide awake. I decided not to go to bed until I'm sleepy. Just running a bath. And taken my magnesium and B complex supplement. Not sure what dose of magnesium I should try? Any ideas? Maybe I just need less sleep than I think I do?

                            Anyway - it's leaving me a bit puzzled...


                            • #15
                              I never think I'm addicted to caffeine until I go somewhere there's no morning coffee - like a camping trip - and immediately get an awful headache and digestive symptoms too. So that could well be it.

                              This week has gone well for me, I think the warm and sunny weather has a lot to do with it. When it turns cold again I know I'll have a much harded time resisting comforting carby foods and strong milky tea. :-(
                              Well and happy - Journalling a primal life in London