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The Primal Journal of Soon-Jung: An Asian Girl Without Rice

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  • The Primal Journal of Soon-Jung: An Asian Girl Without Rice

    I decided to start a journal here, with like-minded people, since I do not have daily contact with anyone else interested in the primal lifestyle. My family and friends are used to my dietary whims and, unfortunately, like The Little Boy Who Cried Wolf, I now find they aren't very supportive when I embark on something new. I realize that I contributed to that attitude by not sticking with any of my previous efforts for longer than six months, but I hope to change that now, and demonstrate my commitment with visible results.

    Background: Up until high school I ate lots of processed food, sweets, and soda. By luck of the draw and eleven years of dance classes I remained thin, though I now realize how much my body must have been suffering. Then I stopped dancing, got older, and dove into years of cyclical "dieting" by eating low-fat food and counting every calorie. During that time I also fell into a depression that has never quite gone away, with long periods of acting "better" punctuated by devastating incidents that would show how much I was just going through the motions. I never had a serious drug or alcohol problem, but self-medicated with sugar, caffeine, and comfort food.

    A couple years ago I decided to get serious about my health, dug into a lot of research, and eventually decided to eat a vegan diet. At the time it drastically improved my physical and mental condition, and I thought I had found a way of eating for life. In hindsight, those first few months as a vegan were so good simply because it was the first time in years I had stopped eating artificial flavors, preservatives, and chemicals. I think eliminating processed food was such a huge step that it allowed me to see progress even though I continued to eat sugar, grains, and legumes.

    Of course it didn't last. I expanded my roster of vegetables and grew to love whole grains, especially wild rice, buckwheat, and oats. Yet I never felt completely satisfied and filled that void with lots of baking, thinking that made-from-scratch vegan cookies were so much better than store-bought ones that I could eat as many as I wanted. The crazy highs and lows from those sugar binges, combined with eating grains at every meal, ruined any good thoughts I had about my diet. Long story short(er), I cracked one afternoon, had a bacon cheeseburger, and never looked back.

    In the time since my vegan days ended, I have remained committed to mostly cooking real food as opposed to pre-packaged stuff, but have not limited anything in particular. My weight has risen, slowly and steadily, and I couldn't stop it even by running my shins into metaphorical slivers. The old vegan indoctrination in favor of whole grains made me wary of paleo/primal diets for a long time, but then I saw a photo of a high school acquaintance on Facebook. She owns a CrossFit gym, eats paleo, and looks absolutely amazing. That small personal connection was enough to get me to start reading and I eventually found The Primal Blueprint and Mark's Daily Apple.

    Wow, sorry this got so long and rambly, and I truly appreciate if anyone bothered to read the whole thing. Today is my official Day 1, loosely following the 21-Day Transformation book. My goal is to eat 100% primal for these three weeks and see how I feel. I want to change my body, but don't have a particular weight goal. I don't even own a scale. The mirror and one pair of "skinny" jeans will be enough to monitor my progress. That, and I would love, for the first time in my entire life, to do a pull up.

    P.S. I posted a "before" photo on my personal site today.
    Last edited by soonjung; 11-01-2011, 10:58 AM. Reason: Added link to blog

  • #2
    Welcome! You're gonna love it here The folks here are awesome!
    I'm a former vegan, too, with habits similar to yours(ohhh how I loved to binge!!)
    keep writing and I'll keep reading!


    • #3
      Welcome, Soon-Jung! However far you strayed from health, what's important is that you're here now. All those years of damage are entirely reversible when you give your body what it needs. Not to worry if your family and friends are skeptical at first -- mine were too. But this forum is filled with helpful folks who will help you stay motivated and learn everything you need to know.

      One pull up, ha! I remember wishing I could do the same. But once you've done one, a half dozen are not far behind. And then a dozen. And then with weights! You may have started this to fit into a nice pair of jeans, but you'll get lots more than that without even trying very hard.

      Good luck and have fun!


      • #4
        Thanks for the encouragement, JennaRose and Timothy!

        Day 1

        I feel like I followed the letter of the law, but not the spirit. I wasn't hungry when I woke up (rarely am), so I didn't eat until about 2:00. I had some leftover pork roast with onions and apples to finish what was in the refrigerator. It was definitely primal, although in the future I won't "waste" a piece of fruit in a meal; I'd rather keep it as a bit of a treat. The problem is that I didn't eat enough, or didn't have enough veggies with it to feel full, so I became ravenous by 5:00. I just finished eating a couple eggs with bacon, the breakfast I skipped this morning. None of this would be all that bad except I already promised to cook a steak dinner tonight! I obviously should have had a smaller snack instead of a full meal, and will now end up keeping most of my steak for lunch tomorrow. I am proud of myself for at least staying primal and not succumbing to the sugar/carb craving as I once would have.

        Fitness: Walked for about an hour, just casually strolling around town to do errands. Loving my Merrell Barefoot Pace Gloves. I hate feeling things between my toes, don't even wear thong-style flip flops, so I'm a bit leery of FiveFingers. Walking in these shoes feels great. As a former ballet dancer I should have realized long ago that thin, flexible shoes allow our bodies to do their best work. Dancers point, flex, twirl, and leap through incredibly demanding routines wearing not highly cushioned and padded trainers, but light, thin, leather slippers. Can't believe I never correlated that to my everyday and running shoes!

        Mood and Lifestyle: Too much time on the computer, mostly stalking these forums. I think it will be easier to cut back after a while; at the moment it's the initial excitement of a new adventure and connecting with other people living the same way. I got a bunch of books from the library that I hope to make my before-bed reading. Usually I do that on the iPad, but I could use a break from LED screens. Getting out of bed was still a chore, even with plenty of sleep. Even though I felt calm and in control most of the day, morning motivation is still in short supply. Am learning to cope without caffeine and sugar; eight days without coffee!


        • #5
          Day 2:

          Eating: Handled food much better today. Woke up around 8:30, had an apple at 10:30, and a nice big salad at 1:00. I also picked up some snacks in case I need to have a bite before dinner tonight, leftover steak on top of salad. I love smashing guacamole on top in place of dressing! Got my primal "candy and soda," macadamias and pineapple Vita Coco. The pineapple version has 10g sugar more than the plain, so it's even more of a splurge. I'm trying to stay in the neighborhood of 50g carbs per day and really like my daily fruit for breakfast, so I am very careful everywhere else. The coconut waters are such a treat (and far better than the Pepsi or Starbucks latte they are effectively replacing) that I love having them on hand for moments when I might otherwise be tempted by something *really* bad.

          Another day of walking, this time around Boston. Probably a little over two hours, though that includes browsing through a couple stores and getting my snacks from Whole Foods, so it wasn't continuous. I do the Plank and Squats every other night or so, but haven't incorporated any other exercise yet. An old wrist injury makes pushups difficult and I don't have a readily available spot to do modified pull ups. Working on that.

          Mood and Lifestyle: I feel good. In control of myself, more proactive. I need to rein in my consumer-driven self, though. I'm so easily tempted to buy things that support my health, but must recognize that I can wait. Made the decision to limit Twitter time and not bring my iPad or laptop to bed anymore, and to turn off all sounds on my phone (except two urgent family member ringtones) after 9:00pm. Hopefully I will be able to find a balance between connection and obsession. I love gadgets and technology and really have to work on letting go.


          • #6
            Feeling weak and woozy: carb flu thing?

            Decided not to continue the daily breakdown. I already keep a food/exercise log and I probably don't need to rewrite everything here. I'd rather write a little more about how I feel (physically and mentally) instead of just a recap of what I ate.

            That said, this morning was strange. I woke up ravenous, something I never do. I immediately ate an apple and a few almonds, but still felt hungry and weak. So I cooked some bacon and eggs with a little guacamole, waited, and *still* felt... weird. I had a few sips of coconut water, and even broke out three squares of my "emergency" dark chocolate. That last part makes me feel bad, as I have been candy and caffeine free for over a week now, before becoming primal. Worse, it didn't even help me feel better, although it was damn tasty.

            Is this a low-carb flu thing? An actual flu thing? (It's going around in my town and I didn't get a shot yet.) I don't feel sick to my stomach, just completely weak and slightly lightheaded. Think I'll go for a short walk and see if fresh air and sun help at all, while staying close to home just in case. Any tips?