Ancestral Health Info - My main blog about Primal and the general ancestral health movement for people who want to take a flexible approach.
Chinese word of the day: 减肥 (jian3 fei2)- lose weight
I'm probably going to regret this, but here are a couple of pictures...
First goal is to kick the sugar addiction- and I'm not quite sure how to approach it... can I go cold turkey?
At the same time, my problem is over thinking things. Hence this journal, and the decision to take it one craving/decision/step at a time!
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First of all, a confession: I'm not exactly eating Primal... so maybe I can't really claim to be an expert on this yet (I'm pretty sure there are people who do a better job than me- for example the couple I saw in the shop where I buy bacon, both wearing vibrams and loading up their basket with healthy stuff), but anyway, I try.
This is one of many areas where I very easily let perfect be the enemy of good. Recently I got overwhelmed about the idea of trying to avoid eating the wrong kinds of oils and stuff like that in a country where natives talk about 'gutter oil' being used in restaurants (they mean a scary-sounding mix of recycled, old, random oil I think... that's the kind of thing I bury my head in the sand about as much as possible to be honest!).
I know, I know... I should cook and eat at home. It's just that eating out is a big part of my life here- it's dead cheap, and often how I socialise with friends. My previous success with Primal eating, when I stuck at it fairly well for a few months and lost a bit of weight, involved eating out quite a bit and just sticking to vegetables and meats (oh, that's another thing- this meat is definitely not the good, grass-fed stuff!)... but then again the main part of my diet was the huge salad/veg concoction I had every day at work.
Rice and noodles don't actually have to be as big a part of your diet as people assume- Chinese people actually tend to eat a bowl of rice after everything else, to fill up. There are still an awful lot of bready, doughy, noodly things around though.
And even though Chinese people don't eat too much sweet stuff, it doesn't mean there aren't convenience stores everywhere selling chocolate...
One thing that's good is markets. I can go just down the road and get piles of vegetables. I find that as long as I remember to actually buy food and have it in the fridge I do a much better job of cooking and eating it! Obviously.
Waist (around belly button): 81cm
Waist (narrowest part): 77cm
I've been eating badly recently, and can really feel that bloated feeling around my middle. I remember last year when I was eating pretty much primally how much I enjoyed the light, slim feeling I had.
I'm not obsessed with how much I weight, or losing weight- I know I'm not really overweight or anything. But I do know that the kind of habits I'm developing (too much chocolate/sugar, cycles of eating really well or really badly but not much consistency, etc) are the kind of habits that start to catch up with you, and I can see that I could easily end up gradually putting on weight and feeling bad about it later.
70kg is the natural top limit of my weight fluctuations- generally I know when I get up to that I need to do something about it!
good: realised I had lots of veg in the fridge that needed eating yesterday. cooked it.
kind of bad: put it back in the fridge and went to eat with my Chinese neighbours who'd just cooked dinner
good: it was all veg
good: refused rice
bad: had a bit of 白酒 (Chinese spirit, rice wine, pretty sure that's not primal!)
worst: ate the sugary sweets my neighbour put in front of me
not sure about this one: drank 2 cans of almond milk (not cos I wanted it, this is the Chinese hospitality thing, they force things on you... I refused plenty of times! still haven't figured this problem out... actually ended up at some other Chinese family's house a little later on and got force fed another 2 cans...)
result: not a bad day, apart from a completely unintended almond milk binge in the evening!
after a marathon session of frantically scribbling Chinese characters I've caught up on my reviews from the last few days... I'm thinking that success can cancel out the 2 slices of bread I ate (or at least it puts me back on the right path and I can feel good about myself despite the doughy feeling seeping into my brain and weighing down my stomach!)
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it's all a planning issue- there's healthy stuff in the fridge, even ready cooked healthy stuff, but I came out to meet a friend for coffee and somehow thought that I wouldn't buy a breakfast even though I hadn't eaten anything and would definitely get hungry...
on the positive side, staying in the cafe and eating that meant I'd finish my studying, instead of going for lunch with 3 English speaking friends where I probably would still have slipped up on food, and also felt bad about skipping Chinese...
lesser of 2 evils, I'm gonna look at the positives!
my neighbour asked 你吃饭了吗？ (Have you eaten?)
没有 (no I haven't... damnit, should've lied... now I can't get out of eating with them, and it's most definitely not primal- see picture... that is a bowl of flour on the table!)
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well I guess I can just eat one...
but oh no, 多吃点儿 (eat some more) is the catchphrase around here... I've practically had to fight to avoid having a fourth one
Accepting Chinese hospitality is important to me, but balancing it with this way of eating is proving difficult!check out the grains in this 粥：
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One Week In
So, it turns out that starting the journal didn't magically solve all my problems! In one short week I've gone through a whole cycle of ups and downs- feeling good because I'm losing the bloating and eating well... and then somehow thinking that I can therefore loosen up a bit and 'treat myself' (the amount of 'treats' I eat nowadays means they definitely can't be called 'treats', they're practically staples) and falling off the wagon in bingeland. Oops.
So, I'm going to do this properly this week and actually record everything I eat and put it on here. So (as when I put up my 'before' pictures) I kind of half hope that nobody will actually look at it so I won't be embarrassed! But I figure putting everything online here is a stronger accountability tool than a private notebook... I just struggle a lot with putting things publicly online- I'm one of those people who hates posting on a wall in facebook (maybe the fact that I'm in China and haven't used facebook while I'm away for the last couple of years has helped to keep me in the dark ages in that respect!).
Anyway, whether it's the knowledge that someone might see what I'm eating, or just that I myself can easily look back in a week and see how good/bad it was (no denial), I think there's enough of a reason to keep this up.
What I've learned from this week
1. I need to work out a strategy for when I'm eating with my neighbours, and find a way to refuse rice/bread etc. I'm starting to realise that this just might be a case of insisting as many times as is necessary to overcome their need to feed me.
2. I think drinking and sleep are not completely under control and they're derailing me... maybe instead of socialising so much at dinner time I could arrange things during the day, and try to find other socialising options besides eating and drinking.
3. Screen time/computer time is another issue. I have wondered if the forum was a good idea because it's just another black hole I could get sucked into. I'm going to try harder to cut down screen time in the evenings at first.
4. I think too much about food, and in particular chocolate. I have moments of very strong motivation when I think I can give up eating crap forever, and then it seems like only a few minutes later I can be eating a whole chocolate bar or two. I think that I've got myself in the situation where thinking about sweet stuff is just a habit, and then responding to random cravings is a habit- it's very much psychological and linked to emotions too. The times I'm motivated are when I'm thinking about fitness goals and things like that... so I'm going to try and have an article from a Chinese fitness magazine on me at all times to read whenever I start craving chocolate. Hopefully then I can kill two birds with one stone and work on my Chinese while getting past the craving.
...at a restaurant with a colleague and our trainee teachers (all Chinese). ended up eating spinach, 鱼香肉丝 (pork strips with some veg and a sweet sauce that must be full of stuff I should be avoiding), some rice, and a bit of soup.
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resisted this oily greasy sandwich:
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(sounds horrible when I describe it like that but they're pretty nice, or at least I used to think so).
People get so worried when I don't order 主食 （a staple like rice or noodles)... I need to get my response sorted... one that satisfies them without getting them asking too many questions about foreigners eating habits, which a: gets dull very quickly, and b) is the kind of conversation that bugs me cos do people seriously think all foreigners eat the same thing?!
Now I feel full in a slightly uncomfortable way so I know I didn't do too well in that meal! but it could have been worse...