Sunday, January 22, 2017

Back to Paleo and Hopefully Back to Myself

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Today's Paleo lunch.
From the beginning of November, pretty much, possibly a bit earlier (October perhaps), my life has been a little crazy. First there was the moving date that we had up in the air, not knowing when our new home would be ready. Then simultaneously I was working to finish up my book. Once that was finished, it was back to the packing yet not knowing exactly when we were moving. Then moving, unpacking, and putting our house together, then doing construction on our rental unit and then trying to rent it out, then preparations for my brother's wedding, and now we're dealing with major damage and leaks in our new apartment, and between all that, my family has been sick three times.

If you can imagine, things have been going a little nuts around here and my stress levels have been increased to the point where I'm constantly snapping at people, and I'm beyond exhausted. Between the crazy times I've had lulls where nothing is going on for a few days, and even then, I'm just really not myself, extremely wiped out, even though there is nothing going on in my life and the only thing keeping me "busy" is watching movies. It doesn't make sense that I'm so exhausted (the last time I felt like this was when I was in my first trimester of pregnancy, and I'm not pregnant), so I've been trying to figure out the cause of this all, because I need to have some sense of normalcy back, and to be fully functioning, and not this zombie like existance that I've been feeling like for the past few months, for my sanity and for the sake of my family. Yes, it started out because things were genuinely hectic, but I've had hectic in my life before and it didn't get to this extreme level, where I feel on the verge of collapse.

I was doing a lot of thinking, and I think I may have figured out it out.

The last time I genuinely felt this awful was 5 years ago when I was pregnant with Anneliese and all I was eating was dairy and gluten- I barely functioned. When I cut dairy and gluten out, I finally was back to myself. I know diet can have an extreme affect on me physically and emotionally as well.

For the past many months, because of all the craziness in my life, I've been trying to find shortcuts to make things easier, and the biggest shortcuts I took were in the kitchen. I've not only completely ditched the Paleo diet that I was doing so well on- nearly every meal was rice based, and I know rice makes me tired- I've also been eating pure junk when I've had a hankering for treats (no, Skittles and chemical filled non dairy ice cream and msg filled flavored Doritos and soda are not acceptable treats, no matter what diet you're on). I'm also not eating enough vegetables, etc... I started this because I was exhausted, but because of that, I kept on being even more exhausted and couldn't seem to be getting out of this rut- it was a bad cycle...

But on Friday I decided to take the bull by the horns and say that no matter how exhausted I am, I need to fix my diet, and make more of an effort to eat in a way that strengthens my body instead of hurting it. (Forget the scale- I have no idea what I weigh now- I know I gained, but that is the least of my concerns. My health is.)

Since Friday afternoon, nearly everything I ate has been Paleo. The only exceptions were chicken wings that I'd already cooked with leftover purchased tomato dip (which I think contained MSG) and lentils from my lentil miso soup. No rice or any grains, even gluten free ones. No junk or unhealthy desserts, even when everyone around me was eating and drinking it, even at a party I attended. No white sugar. I can;t say I'm feeling perfect now, but already I'm starting to feel the fog lift.

Even when I was really craving junk yesterday, I decided to be strong and not give in. Instead I first snacked on a fruit, and when I couldn't stop thinking about chocolate, I mixed some date paste with cocoa powder and coffee granules, palm oil, chia seeds, and a few cashews, and had a few bites of that, and froze the rest for today, which I ate when I again had a really strong urge for chocolate.

I decided to also start exercising regularly a bit more. When you're exhausted, the thought of excercising seems way too much, so I decided to see if I can encorporate a small amount- just enough to keep my blood flowing faster, but not enough to exhaust me. I figured out a route near my house where I can run either down hill or straight the entire way, so it isn't too difficult, and each circle is half a mile. I'm going to start off with just running one cycle, hopefully every night, and as I get more energy hopefully build up and do more and more cycles. Last night I ran the route once, and it felt great to be exercising again, and despite running I feel less tired today than I have in the past while.

This morning, though I wanted to stick to my convictions to eat purely paleo, I opened my fridge and saw that I was really lacking diversity in the produce department, which makes it much harder for me to eat well, because being bored in the kitchen makes me look for junk. However, because construction workers were coming to deal with our water leaks, I couldn't go to the market to go buy more produce (and the local mom and pop's store's produce is too overpriced for most things), so I decided to do a quick run out and see what I could forage.

In ten minutes, I managed to go from my house in a new construction project, to a nearby hill (they dug out the hill to build this complex) that is covered in wild plants, pick a bunch of wild mustard, mallow, and wild fennel, as well as a bit of sow thistle, (this is more produce than it looks, since the tiles are big, so you can't really see scale) and come back home. This is what I call dirt cheap and easy paleo. I got some fresh air and exercise in too so that was awesome.

My lunch for today will be wild mustard with garlic (cooked like this- broccoli rabe is wild mustard, and any recipe for broccoli rabe can be made with wild mustard instead), and baked chicken wings. I debitter my greens first by soaking them in boiling water for ten minutes then squeezing out the bitter liquid. However, because my focus right now is on fixing my body, and part of that is getting as much nutrition as possible, I do plan on drinking that liquid (the addition of a little lemon juice and salt makes it more palatable).

To keep down the costs of my Paleo eating, as well as keeping it easy enough that I manage to stick with it, I'm planning on stocking up on even more chicken wings. Our local grocery store (15 minutes by bus) has frozen chicken wings for 63 cents a pound, and I like chicken wings and they are easy to make. However, the biggest problem for me is boredom with the same foods over and over again, so my plan is to mix up a bunch of different spice mixes (I used to have a lot available to use whenever, but right now I have only one, that I'm getting bored of it) so I can just dump them on and stick the chicken in the oven, and easily change up the flavor that way.

I'm also going to try my best to make it to the market as soon as possible to stock up on more veggies. There is a low cost CSA type delivery locally, and I'd spoken to them about my house being a pick up point, and if I do that, it'll simplify myself because I would get my produce delivered to my door, and in return for being the pick up point I would get my produce free. Arranging that is on my to do list.

Another thing I want to do is have a good stock of Paleo friendly quick snacks in my house- I gotta make some more cashew butter and almond butter and buy more fruit so I can eat them together as a healthy treat, and I want to buy more peeled roasted chestnuts to have available.

Yesterday when I was at a friend's house I ate some delicious dehydrated sweet potato chips, which I want to try to make because they really satisfied my snacking craving. My mom made ground beef jerky that came out really well, and had a cracker like texture- a nice crunch, so I want to make some of that as well.

I'm torn between trying to figure out what my priorities should be- how many snack items do I want at home, ready to eat, so that I don't cave and eat what I shouldn't, and how much should I just focus on making sure I have good meals so I don't snack so much. The thing about snacks, though, is that even Paleo snacks aren't ideal as they are typically either high in fat or high in sugar, and while the main reason I want to go back to Paleo is to feel better, I also do want to get back on the bandwagon and lose the weight I put on recently, and snacking on Paleo snacks still will hurt that effort. But maybe I should do one thing at a time, and focus first on sticking to Paleo, and once I've gotten that again, then focus on Paleo in a way that promotes weight loss.

I feel like, as much as I want to do this, the exhaustion I've been feeling may make this goal of mine biting off more than I can chew, but I really need to try my best to stick to healthier (for me) eating habits because I can't remain this way.

Another thing I want to do is have backup ready to eat meals in my freezer, so that when I really don't feel like cooking at all, I can just pop them into the oven to heat up and hopefully that'll stop me from eating what I shouldn't.

Wish me luck!

Do you find that diet affects how you feel. in terms of exhaustion and temperment? If you do, how do you find the motivation and manage to stick with it when you have so many things going on in your life that are keeping you very busy? I'd appreciate any tips and tricks, especially ones that are Paleo friendly.

Lastly, if you wanted to buy the Back to Basics ebook bundle, this is your last chance to buy it, before it is no longer offered, as the sale ends in just a few hours- Sunday night at midnight CST. After that, the bundle won't be available anymore, and instead of paying $29.95 for the lot, buying it individually (when possible- some ebooks are only offered as part of the bundle) will cost you over $800.
For more info or to buy it now, see here. 


  1. I'm in a similar situation, and we sound a lot alike! I too am struggling with feeling overly tired, and not coincidentally, had fudged on my paleo a bit. Just a little. I'm waiting to have enough extra funds to get the grain mill attachment for my kitchen aid so I can bring my own lentils for flour. I'm pretty excited about this, it will open a lot of avenues for me to be able to come up with biscuits and hopefully some pastry type alternatives. I used to love chicken pot pie, and I love to cook. Can't wait to see how it turns out! I wish there was a foraging class here in the Midwest where we live.

  2. Diet absolutely affect my mental state! Sugar especially. I really believe in the benefits of Paleo. I tried it a couple of times and I really wish I had the willpower - or even just the will - to do it again because my body react really well to it (decreased appetite, easy weight loss, no more binge eating urges), but I don't. I find it too monotonous. I get bored easily. Too bad for me. Hang in there, you're doing a great thing for yourself.

  3. Looks great, love this sharing so much, thanks!

  4. I think with all the stuff you've been through lately that it's only natural that you are wiped out. With rest and not being too hard on yourself, you should return to normal energy levels. I really don't know how diet plays into this scenario.

  5. Great job Penny! The foraged greens look delicious and so vibrantly green. I've been in a similar situation lately where I had been living on nothing but fast food and dining out (final exams +holidays). Lately I've been trying to cook more and choosing healthier options. While mentally it is hard to give up junk, my body eagerly embraced the change and now I found myself with more energy. and looking forward to things like fresh made salsa and brown rice instead of instant noodles.

  6. My diet is simple, eat less..move more. I have a tendency to eat like a football player when I should be eating like a ballerina. So more fruits and veggies, lean meats, healthy organic snacks and Weight Watchers Chocolate Ice Cream bars. Today I ate a caramel chocolate bar but didn't feel too bad cos I exercised on my elliptical for a few minutes. I think you should focus on your food first, worry about the weight later. Ya might also consider mediation. Great for stress. Even if it's only 5 minutes a day.


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