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Can I really get a corner of paleo paradise?

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  • Can I really get a corner of paleo paradise?

    Please forgive me for sounding ranty and whiny here. At this moment tonight my intellectual commitment to a Primal way of life is intact, but trying to actualize that commitment over the past year or so has not yielded me even a corner of "paleo paradise." Since the SAD and total lack of exercise is what screwed things up for me in the first place, I obviously can't go back to that. But at this moment, I really despair of being able to make real and lasting changes in my life.

    In November of 2010, I said, "Aha!" because learning about the Primal approach made "going paleo" much less of an esoteric ritual and much more of a common sense, every day reality. It re-affirmed the value of eating simply, moving freely, and living in a balanced way.

    But I have to say, here more than a year later, I haven't been able to make it work for me.

    If I eat the way that makes me feel really good--nothing complicated, nothing exotic, just good quality--I can end up spending sixty dollars a week on groceries. I can't afford that. I just can't. I can't even really afford thirty dollars a week. I'm not earning starvation wages, but a mortgage, taxes, a home improvement loan, and an IRA contribution are currently making me paranoid about every penny I waste.

    However, I can't eat cheap. Processed meat products make me puff up. Eggs make my nose drip. Beans and rice are out of the picture as is soy. I love freshly cooked vegetables, but they're not enough.

    Exercise is problematic. Two factors have been keeping me very tired for the past two years: not well-treated sleep apnea (I'm trying to find a useful, inexpensive alternative to a CPAP machine but have not been able to pin anyting down) and the most stressful job I've ever had.

    I have dyslexia AND dyscalculia and have somehow ended up in a job that requires me to do data entry and calculations with endless lists of numbers. I can do it if I hyperfocus and check and recheck myself--and often skip lunch to give myself time to get work done. At the end of the workday, I feel totally fried, and no matter what sort of exercise I try, I can't seem to get the stress monkey off my back.

    Right now, I'm tired as all get-out and absolutely need to sleep, but I feel so wound up I can't stand it. This is so typical of my weekly routine. After a week at work, I'm fried on Friday, slightly less fried on Saturday, and, for a brief fiew hours on Sunday, while I'm taking the classic Sunday afternoon nap, I feel very relaxed. Then I have to wake up and start thinking about getting ready for work on Monday.

    Drinking wine of any sort to relax just gives me a headache. Isochronic tones embedded in "soothing music" annoy me. Sleeping on the floor and using a sleep mask have probably done the most to improve my ability to de-stress, but I still have what seems an infinite distance to cover before I can say, "Last night I slept well; this morning I ate well; today I moved well; right now I feel well and focused and energetic."

    I keep thinking that if I could just get a focus on one simple activity to do or routine to follow, one thing that would make a clear difference relatively quickly and wouldn't cost an arm and a leg, I would do it faithfully. But a yearlong search for what will really work in my individual situation seems to have yielded nothing whatsoever.

    Thus I am tired and ranty and whiny.

    Thanks for giving me space to vent.


  • #2
    Hugs. I hope you find an answer but I can't think of one. Good luck.
    Ancestral Health Info - My blog about Primal and the general ancestral health movement. Site just remodeled using HTML5/CSS3 instead of Wordpress.

    My MDA Friday success story - Stubborn Senior's Testimonial


    • #3
      I am sorry to hear about all your problems, I do a lot of my parents' grocery shopping as well as my own, so I understand your frustration re: food prices. Have you tried shopping at ethnic supermarkets? I am fortunate to live in an area with a high concentration of those and I find that for produce and meats, the prices are considerably lower. Also, I don't think it is necessary to buy organic, grass-fed meat all the time. Ideally, I would, for both nutritional and ethical considerations, but paying $6-10 for a pound of beef is not feasible for me. Primal shouldn't be an upper-middle class limited lifestyle.
      F 28/5'4/100 lbs

      "I'm not a psychopath, I'm a high-functioning sociopath; do your research."


      • #4
        It is difficult to do Primal broke but not impossible, especially considering how you feel if don't do it.
        I am assuming you may want some suggestions as well as acknowledgment of a very difficult situation.
        Please ignore if not helpful. I felt a lot like you did about a few years ago and made some major changes which were very difficult at the time but have been life-changing and now I view those challenges as gifts. They were terrible but gave me back control of my life and I am glad I went through it now. Never thought I'd say that but it is true. You can get through this difficult time with "baby steps" and compassion for yourself and any setbacks that come.

        Dealing with stress makes everything so much harder, and that must be the first thing you think about. Sounds like the job will not be working for you long term. Reality is you may have to retrain, change jobs, be prepared to take serious financial "blow" (I ended up having to file bankruptcy due to mother in nursing home, etc. and debt that just got impossible to solve). There is a book called Your Money or Your Life. Title says it all. Things happen in an unfair world, but you don't have to destroy yourself or your health. You may need to consider downsizing, selling house, car etc. and move to small Apt. or camper, move home, whatever for a year to get rid of the burden for awhile. It's just stuff. You are more important.

        Stress management is critical--exercise in your home w/ bodyweight, walks, gentle yoga, meditation etc. are free and effective. Cut out alcohol if you use it. Expensive, an avoidance tactic, and messes with your sleep.

        Here are a few "cost cutting" things I do for food which may help if you aren't already doing them yourself:

        I don't buy grassfed meat-can't afford. I take Omega 3 oil,and /or eat fish to balance, or don't worry about it.

        I use many "cheap" sources of protein like sardines by the case from Amazon.

        I buy cheap organic veggies like cabbage and go to farmer's market for others. I grow my own--one cherry tomato plant yields many tomatos, and takes only a small space. One bush summer squash plant will fill a container and give you squash for an army.

        I also have a Sam's membership (no Costco near me) to buy organic prewashed baby lettuce and spinach very cheaply. It's where I buy my non-organic limes and large bags of non organic onions which I put in everything. Good and cost-effective.

        I watch sales at my Coop and buy cases of organic Muir Glen tomatos, coffee, and other staples when possible.

        I also get good buys on pork butt, bacon ends, etc. and freeze. My crockpot and slow cooking are my good friends on weekends. I eat simply and often at my desk at work. My food is good and good for me.

        Last of all, don't judge yourself or others. Takes too much energy, and gives no benefit. You are where you are and so are the rest of us. It will be OK and things will improve if you move carefully towards what you want.


        • #5
          Is $30 - $60 typical for a weeks worth of eating in the US??

          That's probably half what you'd expect here ... but I think I could do it. I eat pretty cheaply (and pretty well) generally. Turkey mince and minced meats in general are cheap here (Australia) and Woolthworths is making organic meat options cost viable some weeks. Mostly I wait for roasts to go on special and buy up big. A ~$15 roast 3-4kg roast feeds me for most of the week.

          Then I'll recycle the bones and make bone broth that I turn into borscht, or chunky chicken soup with veggies if I've picked up a roast chicken sometime during the week.

          Salad items are cheap as chips ... I grew my own lettuce for awhile to save money.

          I understand that weekly / weekend cycle. Stress used to be a big part of my life and drinking was how I would deal with it. I don't recommend it. It took awhile but I found some activity that I love to do that helps manage it in a much more productive way (I do Krav Maga twice a week and boxing class once a week).

          Maybe it's the type of activity you're doing that's not floating your boat?


          • #6
            Hello from a fellow NY'er.

            First of all, {{{Hugs}}}. I think that you need to set some Primal priorities. Food is primary, then sleep, then exercise etc. If you are not eating enough good Primal food, you are going to feel like crap no matter what else you do. It seems as if you have painted yourself into a corner trying to follow the "rules".

            Food-I do not eat organic and grass fed and never have. Ideal, Yes. Mandatory, No. I eat chicken, hamburger, steak, pork etc. Looking for the sales. I drink Whey protein (50g p) to make sure I get to my protein goal. I eat tubers, and starchier veg in addition to greens to get in the healthy carbs. And rice once in a while. I believe that we need a minimum of 75-100 grams/day. I made myself sick and sad on VLC. My fats come from HWC, Coconut products, OO and avocado.

            Sleep-You may want to consider magnesium supplementation and/ or 5 htp. Mag helps me fall asleep, 5htp helps me sleep deeper, but also helps with relaxation because it is a seratonin booster. Also environmental changes may help - darkened room, white noise machine. Also look up binaural beat meditations on You Tube. They are amazing for helping you turn off your brain and get to sleep.

            Other hugely important supps - D3, I take 10,000iu/day and my level is ideal at 70. Omega 3 to offset the non grass fed meat.

            Once these are in line, then you may feel up to exercise. When you feel up to it, do it. For now, don't let it be a stressor.

            The job situation is a tough one. That is what the hugs were for. Feel free to PM me or come hang out in my journal. Have you been using the forum to build your personal Primal community? None of us should go it alone.
            Primal since 9/24/2010
            "Our greatest foes, and whom we must chiefly combat, are within." Miguel de Cervantes

            Created by - Free Weight Loss Tools
            MFP username: MDAPebbles67


            • #7
              Similar spot as you. Allergic to all the cheap food sources. I could eat them, but I'd break out in rashes and pimples all over the place. So I force-feed myself cheap, disgusting meat out of desperate hunger. Same goes for the few cheap vegetables which I've long gotten sick of.
              Oh well, lower class isn't meant to live a good life.


              • #8
                As far as the veggies go. My farmer's market sells veggies dirt cheap. They also sell some items that would be a ton more in supermarkets, like grain finished, but grass fed beef. It is better than the alternative. Just some suggestions.
                Never give up on anything you can't go a day without thinking about - Tony Horton


                • #9
                  1) Food: Rob Wolf has a new e-book on how to do paleo on the cheap. I suggest you read that. Shop
                  2) Stess: You need to get this in order. All the nutrition in the world is not going to help you if you don't. Honestly you need to start looking for a new job. You should consider downsizing if you CAN sell your house (I know I can't). Lastly, but maybe most important is you need to learn the art of meditation and start practicing it EVERY day.
                  3) Exercise: Critical.. go out for a walk in nature and just breathe and enjoy the decompressing. Do some Yoga at home and do some body weight exercises a couple days a week. Also sprint occasionally... you CAN do it. It will help your stress as well and none of these things costs any money.
                  4) Sleep: Once you start doing #2, #3 your sleep will improve. Make sure you are giving yourself enough time to get enough sleep
                  5) HAVE FUN: Find a new hobby, meet up with some people.. maybe join a softball team, or something similar.
                  Primal since March 2011

                  Female/29 years old/5' 1"/130ish lbs


                  • #10
                    i would suggest 30 minutes of yoga practice that you can do at home, which can help you relax as well as get you in shape. i suggest a form of power yoga. see if your local library has Baron Baptiste videos -- his are really good and he has 20-40 minute flow videos. I really enjoy them.

                    Once you memorize the sequence (or copy the disk onto your computer), you'll be good to go. It solves two problems.

                    I also agree about shopping frugally -- and perhaps see if there is a community garden than you can join.


                    • #11
                      Get the CPAP. Yes, it is expensive. Everyone I know who needed a CPAP and got one swears it is life-changing- you wake up feeling rested, and far less stressed out. Your liver gets to work properly, leading to weight loss. Your mood improves, because you aren't tired and cranky all the time. Everything becomes easier.

                      Once you are sleeping properly, it is much easier to fix the other issues. Really.


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by jfreaksho View Post
                        Get the CPAP. Yes, it is expensive. Everyone I know who needed a CPAP and got one swears it is life-changing- you wake up feeling rested, and far less stressed out. Your liver gets to work properly, leading to weight loss. Your mood improves, because you aren't tired and cranky all the time. Everything becomes easier.

                        Once you are sleeping properly, it is much easier to fix the other issues. Really.

                        Then you also know what it feels like to get a good night sleep.. so once you get the rest in order you can see if you can sleep without it successfully
                        Primal since March 2011

                        Female/29 years old/5' 1"/130ish lbs


                        • #13
                          Thank you so muc!!! Not quiate as long . . .

                          It is so good to see such thoughtful, common-sense responses to a really whacked rant.

                          I wrote it at the end of two of the most stressful weeks I've had at work in the past two years. I got thrown someone else's stuff to do while she was on vacation, and I got no training to speak of. I had to chain myself to my desk to get it done on time; I had to miss lunch, shorten it, or eat it at my desk; I went home every night with a headache and barely able to walk from sitting all day.

                          Thursday of last week, after work, I was rushing down the street near my house, desperate to get home and collapse. I caught the toe of my shoe in a sidewalk crack, and my usually helpful hip flexors and other stabilzing muscles did . . . nothing.

                          I pitched over and heard a crack when my head hit the sidewalk. Didn't black out; I said, "Oh, shit," scrambled up, noted torn stockings and a scraped knee, felt a half-dollar sized lump in my hairline above my left temple. I got home, applied ice, ran through the day's date, the president's name, my birthdate, tongue twisters, counting backward from 500 until I got bored. I spoke with a friend from church who is an M.D. who said that, unless I developed certain symptoms within the next six hours, I probably could just do ice and anti-inflammatories.

                          To make a long story not so long, I'm generally okay, except for being tired. I'm sort of coping, except that today I took a bite of lunch and was surpised to have a big chunk of one of my molars snap off. Dental appointment day after tomorrow . . .

                          It's made me more than a little cranky with a tinge of despair.

                          I have to have my stressful job; I can't afford to lose it. At age FIFTY-EIGHT, I have a resumé that reads, "she has wasted her working life and her degree trying to survive from day to day, so she doesn't have a career that would impress anyone." I am STILL eighty pounds overweight and cannot compete with the hordes of savvy, attractive college grads who are also desperate for work.

                          I have nothing that would impress anyone, and asking around and posting my work history online has yielded nothing.

                          Regarding sleep, I do have a CPAP machine that I have religiously used for five years. It has done . . . not too much for me. I can fall asleep anywhere (except in bed of course, though sleeping on the floor for the past few months has made things better). I also have a sleep mask which helps. And I have been sleeping on the floor, which I like.

                          I go back and forth about what I eat. When I eat really well, I feel good, if tired. Give me a boneless pork chop, greens, and a sweet potato. In fact give me three or four boneless pork chops, a whole pot of greens, and two or three sweet potatoes. There are times when I can eat that much in one sitting. Which scares me. Because clearly my body is saying, "You need this!" AT the same time my brain is saying, "What the hell are you doing to your budget???"

                          Maybe it's leftover paranoia. Back in the summer, budget-cutting at work got me demoted, and my pay dropped. A couple of months ago, bean counters recognized they did "too much," and I got my old title and pay back--along with additional stress.

                          I am most pleased with exercise. I am doing more than I was a year ago, but I really need to do more.

                          So, I'm just having an existential crisis. I'd love a pork chop, but I don't have any.

                          Thank you again for kindness, suggestions, and support.



                          • #14
                            Much more complicated for me than primal food is the whole issue of how one exists in the world primal style in order to maximize nature's intended functions of the human body and minimize effing the body up.

                            I went to the dentist today because two days ago I bit into a piece of coconut and snapped off a big chunk of a molar. Turns out I will need a crown on the tooth. Other molars with fairly large amalgam fillings appear to have cracks in them and will need crowns to stabilize them.

                            My taking a fall and cracking my head on the sidewalk a week ago probably contributed to the broken tooth. But according to various things the dentist detected, apparently I have also been clenching my amalgam-filled, structurally weakened teeth at night . . . for years.

                            Part of it is work stress I am sure. Part of it is probably an unconscious attempt to keep my mouth closed when I am using my CPAP machine. Part of it is probably also bad sleeping posture (I have always had bad posture in general . . .)

                            People talk about eating the hunter-gatherer diet as one way to avoid dental problems. I have come way too late to that party. I ate so much junk food in high school and college, and I got so many fillings. I can't heal my teeth with butter and carrots. I will need probably five thousand dollars' worth of dental work.

                            I have just started going to a "biological dentist" who really seems to know her stuff, so I'm sure I'll benefit from her work.

                            Nevertheless, as I try to figure out the primal way to "get myself back to the garden," I keep discovering how physically messed up I am and how little I seem to be able to do to make things better.

                            Change takes time, improvement takes time, but at the rate I'm discovering problems, I wonder if there will be any time left in my life to discover healthful, practical, and lasting solutions.



                            • #15
                              It's not quite two months since I posted in a funk about my discouragement about ever getting truly on the ball with the meat-veg-good fat-bit of fruit-move-and-groove way of doing things.

                              I think I am much more there than I was in April, but it is has not produced anything even close to the bragging rights that so many people are aiming for when they give up their Doritos.

                              Living in a primal fashion is so much more than losing weight, so much more than gaining muscles. There are so many other components to living a truly healthful existence, and at my age, with my health history, I have--in some ways--so much crap to get out of the way before I can even take seriously the idea that I might be able to lose a really significant amount of weight and stop jiggling for good.

                              Sleep and energy are my personal obsessions right now. Teeth. Teeth, too. I broke a tooth in April, got a permanent crown this week. But for whatever reasons, I'm actually feeling very positive about those things right now.

                              Maybe it's the May sunshine. Maybe it's the fact that they finally fixed the HVAC at work, and I"m not spending my workday sweating in a corner that's often eighteen degrees higher than the temperature at home.

                              Anyway, here's the stuff that's really good in my life right now:

                              1) Sleeping on the floor--very relaxing, very simple, something that makes sleep so much more REAL for me.

                              2) Havving a sort of aha moment a while ago about a few things in Esther Gokhale's advice on how to sit, stand and walk . . . it's probably nothing close to what she's really talking about, but even overweight I find myself at times truly gliding down the street when I walk, and it's a remarkable feeling.

                              3) Discovering that there are truly helpful things I can do about my oral health. Xylitol, yay. Coconut oil and baking soda toothpaste, double yay. How freaking simple and how amazingly effective.

                              4) Being confronted by a friend at church about how hypervigilant I am about everything in my life (and how much I need to let a whole lot in my life just hang, go to hell, go to sleep, or whatever). It's good to have friends.

                              5) Getting to know a guy at a volunteer job who is nice to talk to. I look in my mirror and see nothing that is attractive at this point, except my beautiful blue eyes, so I harbor no illusions about him becoming interested in me. However, it's just damned nice to be reminded that there are men in the world who can "get" me and what I'm about.

                              So, generally, I'm feeling--for me--fairly relaxed about stuff. How nice.

                              Okay, I am a little excited, too. Couple of days ago, I was coming down my street and saw the bus to work pull up across the main road that my street leads to. I ran a block and caught the bus. I prayed like crazy while I was running that I would catch it, but I ran a block. Even at my weight. I ran and caught the bus. Ho-lee mackrel, that was cool.