Sunday, June 6, 2010

June & Due For A Change

The play is done but the stress levels are still up, and the constant frustrations of my fat gain is the primary suspect. I've seen a number of prominent figures in the online Paleo community crashing and burning of late, perhaps due to the increased interest in the evolutionary perspective governing our lifestyle and dietary choices, and the increased pressure from commenters and critiques to nail down exactly what it means to be paleo/primal, and the demand for us to be 'golden children' for the movement. Given that many of us come from a background of obsessive & emotional eating, health problems, and other causes of over-weight, it makes sense that increased focus on the successes and failures regarding our weight and health can trigger old psychological problems. Even Dan, from At Darwin's Table, has admitted that he has fallen off the wagon and into his old eating behaviours, and is having to start again. I wish him all the best as he tries to take control of his food addiction once more, although he seems to be starting at what I found to be the wrong end of the perspective telescope; he is monitoring macronutrients and calories with acute detail.

My choice, however, is to finally let go of those measures. I have been logging my food on SparkPeople since January 1st, 2009. I have watched my carbs, primarily, but lately have been watching my calories just as closely. I would allow the numbers to dictate whether I should eat more or not, ignoring my own hunger signals. Post-Deptran, I found that I had no satiety trigger anyway, so calorie-counting became even more of a crutch. Given that Primal eating is designed to help us understand our bodies more accurately, I recognise that I have been consistently severing my mind's connection with my body, and this must have added to my stress and frustrations.

The obvious, but scary solution? Stop the tracking. Stop photographing every single meal. Stop worrying about fasting. Stop worrying about my metabolism. Stop eating for the wrong reasons.

Instead, I will be eating my lovely, grass-fed meat when I'm hungry, photographing particularly special meals only (i.e. recipe experimentation, such as last weekend's Savory Zucchini Bread & today's Coconut Crusted Salmon), and stay off the scale for a few weeks. I will be prioritising my need to relax and get back in touch with my body, so I'm going to build some Yoga back into my usual body-weight routine, and hopefully keep other stressors out of my life. It's report-writing time, but I've never found that terribly stressful, just time-consuming. In three weeks, we're heading off to Canada, and I've been in touch with a grass-fed beef farmer & a grass-fed exotics farmer so I'll be set for the duration of my stay in Ottawa. The trip is free of financial burden, so other than the usual travel issues, hopefully the holiday will be appropriately relaxing.

I'm in no rush, but I look forward to being rid of what I call my 'Cortisol Belly'! I'm glad that, even though 9kg of my 14kg loss has returned, and my body fat percentage is higher than it was pre-primal, my overall appearance is slimmer than before. My gut - and, to a lesser extend, my hips and thighs - is the only area I've put on weight, and my reading tells me that elevated cortisol levels tend to promote fat storage in the lower abdominal area. The evidence weighs heavily upon the dirty c-word...

This week's eats list will be the last of its kind for a while. I won't bother taking shots of meals I've shared with you before; I will record particularly interesting meals, especially if they're fresh experiments, and feature them here for your viewing pleasure. Other than report-writing, my weekday evenings are commitment-free, so I'll have lots of chances to play around in the kitchen.

Breakfast - salmon sashimi & Bertocchi's porchetta-style roast pork.

Dinner - coconut beef curry.

Breakfast - lamb chop & bacon.

Lunch - a chunk of raw cacao butter; my first try. What an amazing aroma! while there was no real taste, but my metabolism enjoyed the hit of fat.

Dinner - beef scotch fillet, pure beef sausage, lamb chop, and fried eggs.

Breakfast - lamb chops, bacon & eggs. Don't you hate it when you over-cook the eggs and the yolks cook through?! Boo...

Dinner: entree - mussels! Hooray for a fresh seafood delivery!

Dinner: main - salmon fillet topped with buttery marinara.

Breakfast - lamb chop.

Dinner - gummy flake fillet topped with buttery marinara mix.

Breakfast - bacon and eggs, classic!

Lunch - salmon sashimi whilst out shopping with Mum.

Dinner - Farmer Dan's leg of lamb, rubbed with garlic and rosemary, and roasted with veggies: fennel, onion, pumpkin and capsicum.

And my share of the roasted bounty - amazing! Served in its own juices.

Snack - purple kale chips!

Breakfast - that's right, I chowed down on the leg of lamb leftovers, straight off the bone!

Lunch - leftover lamb off the leg, curried with coconut cream until tender and succulent. I know what I'll be doing with my leftovers from now on!

Dinner: entree - sauteed marinara and scallops.

Dinner: main - baked barramundi with a lemon myrtle salt rub, with zucchini.

Dessert - savory zucchini slice, served with raw cream! Yes, I finally found unpasteurised dairy, but the company doesn't have a website yet... Melbournites, look out for Swampy's Real Milk - wonderful stuff!

Enjoy the voyeurism, food porn lovers, and make it last - it'll have to do you for a while! ;) From now on, each week you'll be getting just the best of the best that comes from my kitchen and other adventures. I also want to help people find their local suppliers of high-quality, primal-friendly foods, so be ready for more posts in that vein.


Murray said...

Hi Jezwyn,
Sorry to hear that you are still struggling with your weight. Do you engage in resistance exercise?

Anonymous said...

Your right I am been a little obsessive. I just don't think I am capable of not micro managing my food at the moment. One day I hope to go free fall and be more in tune with my real hunger levels. For me I need to break my addictive thoughts before I try this though. I will be very interested to see how this works for you. Have you read the book 'intuitive eating'. It might help. Its about eating when you feel hungry and recognising those cues.

Jezwyn said...

Hi Murray,

I am still continuing with the same behaviour I used to lose my weight last year. My body is now accumulating fat without any external change from me. The solution isn't as simple as upping my activity levels & exercise routine.


I recognise hunger cues just fine. The issue is that I do not receive satiety cues, so I'm almost always hungry. From fasting, I know what real hunger feels like, and it's a difficult sensation to shut off without the assistance of leptin. Even if I end up eating more than I need, I believe that without the bother of tracking and weighing food and worrying about my weight, my cortisol levels will have more chance of balancing out and therefore leptin will be more likely to function correctly. Your issue is completely different, although I hope your efforts don't backfire the way mine have.

Anonymous said...

Well I think my efforts did backfire. Hopefully this time though. But I agree I think we have very different issues.

Paleo Grrrl said...

Hiya Jezwyn

Stress is a real problem, and I'm sorry to see you pressured by it. What you have planned sounds fantastic though, and I don't doubt that your body will sort itself out once you are relaxing in glorious Canada!

Eat well and be happy :)

Jezwyn said...

Dan, I don't think your original efforts backfired in the sense that they worked against you, your plan just didn't deal with your secondary problem. We share a symptom - weight gain - but perhaps not a cause. You left the primal paradigm and tapped back into sweet cravings etc. I discovered a physiological problem and the drug I was given messed up my hormone balance and made me more sensitive to cortisol, beginning a vicious cycle. I don't have cravings nor do I binge eat, but somehow my body has programmed itself to hoard all energy I consume, and never feel satisfied. I ignore the hunger but it frustrates me, especially when the result of pushing through hunger tends to be insignificant or negative! So I'm not going to think about that anymore, and just eat when I can, without worrying about how much. If I don't know how many calories I've eaten, I won't intellectualise my constant hunger. That's the plan, anyway... We can only make plans, and then test them to see whether we can disprove a personal hypothesis. My hormones may well come back into balance on their own, although I think I will have to go back on my Pill to preserve fertility, since PCO has not resolved.

Thanks PG! I'm so not a stress-head, unlike many of my relatives and colleagues. So my cortisol levels certainly surprised me! I just don't express my stress in the same way, it seems - instead of raging and grumping, I pack on the pounds. Naturally, this result then makes me rage and grump... :P

Anonymous said...

just eat one (1) - really- big chunk of fatty meat and fast the rest of the day ? (yep its me, the warrior / milk guy) like this

1) wake up
2) exercise- fasted-
3) wait 3 maybe 4 hours
4) eat, eat, eat, eat
5) stop
6) live your life
7) sleep
8) repeat

it works for me. the problem? my sugar addiction... my weigth drops
like mad so, soner or later i end up eating crap (you are so skinny, bla, bla everybody is eating trash, unhealthyinfluences o fuck it)

i usually go from 64/ 65 k to 67/68, and over again. its getting really annoying. meat and water (and a lil cheese) and i drop like mad, but that dsnt change my fkn sugar problem... so there, everybody is fkd up. but im getting stronger, im going to beat this sht! and you can do it to!

Anonymous said...

what i mean:

drop the chicken.
drop the lamb.
drop the pork.
drop the sausage.
drop the seafood.
drop the eggs.
drop the bacon.
drop the butter.
drop the cream.
drop the oil.
drop the salmon.
drop the almond.
drop the coconut.
drop the veggies.

> meat and water.

every single day.

(and black pepper)

Anonymous said...

drop the sugar
(4 me)

Jezwyn said...

Hey Anon - ah, you made me LOL. What a perfectly imperfect solution for all involved. Extreme deprivation despite personal demonstration of inability to break addiction through cold turkey, leading ultimately to carb binge. And for me, the whole point of my change is to minimise cortisol, whereas fasting has repeatedly been shown to increase stress on the body.

Kids. I'm not going to say it again. I'm working to minimise stress. I don't give a flying fuck about losing weight right now. It's important that I don't give a flying fuck about my fat right now. I need to chill out. So hush all the theories that work (or apparently DON'T work) for you. I know how to eat & exercise & live to lose weight, but whilst my cortisol is through the roof, the best laid weight-loss plans mean shit all.

I'm taking care of my mental health since it's negatively impacting my physiological health. Everything else is moot. 'My idea is better than yours' comments just add to my stress, so be nice, or be quiet.

This evening, I had two glasses of champagne a few hours after dinner, and giggled my ass off at a comedy club, where I saw one of my favourites, Jimeoin. Fuck. Yeah.

Paleo Grrrl said...

When I'm stressed I get a massage...or buy shoes :) Superficial, but it works!

Wanted to let you know that I tried haloumi the other day after reading about it in your past posts. Thank you! It is probably the most awesome thing ever in the whole world.

I've added dairy back into my diet as my lactose intolerance (which used to be so bad I couldn't even have cream) has completely cleared since I cut out grains. Any other cheeses you recommend?

Jezwyn said...

So far I've been shopping (not terribly relaxing with this gut though!), been to a yoga class (a heck of a lot more advanced than I've done in the past, despite it being a 'beginner' class!), and tonight I'm getting a two hour massage package.

But the most relaxing change I've made is to stop tracking my food - it's amazing how easily I'm changing back to only thinking about food when I need some, and being able to delay the satisfaction of eating nuts etc by telling myself "I'll eat it tomorrow"... In the past, I would use my calorie count to rationalise the importance of eating NOW or downplay the bad side of over-eating 'a little'.

Now I don't know how much I've eaten, I just consider whether I'm hungry or not (or if I've just eaten, that I shouldn't be hungry!) and eat if I'm hungry. Gees, rocket science, isn't it? But hormonal disruption and obsessive/stress eating mucks up that whole system. And a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Take away the information, and half the battle is won.

Glad you like haloumi, but don't forget that dairy intolerance is usually cumulative. I've seen it within myself and now my Mum can't have cream again. She used to have big issues with cream, but then when she cut out grains she would add cream to her yoghurt with her pancakes every day. Now, the old problems are starting to return. I've put her onto sheep's milk yoghurt and cheese, but can't find cream. We'll see how she goes. For me, I don't do dairy except for butter and the very occasional cheese or cream, since they tend to unsettle my system if I have too much (and I used to down dairy like there was no tomorrow, with no ill effects). If I'm going to play with cheese, it's always haloumi or double/triple brie for me.

StephenB said...

Jezwyn, have you considered magnesium supplementation? Most people in the west seem to be deficient (PMID 9513928, 20513641), and deficiency can increase the risk for metabolic syndrome (PMID 20513641; metabolic syndrome often includes accumulation of abdominal fat) and adversely affect blood lipids and insulin sensitivity (PMID 20512102). 300-400 mg/day of magnesium glycinate in divided doses might be a good insurance policy. I found 400mg at once too much for me, and now take 200mg at breakfast and at supper.

Paleo Grrrl said...

Yeh, at the first sign of tummy troubles I'll be ditching the dairy!

The massage sounds heavenly :) have you ever tried lomi lomi massage? If you haven't, give it a try, its sooooo relaxing!

Jezwyn said...

Hi Stephen,

Yes, I supplement magnesium. I started supplementing way back in my original low-carb days, to help avoid cramps as my electrolyte levels were thrown out of balance. I gradually stopped using them though, and now only bother when I think to take my Vitamin D3 gelcaps. I get sufficient magnesium from my diet most days, but it hasn't hurt being double-sure on occasion.

PG, I have heard of lomi lomi but haven't tried it, I don't think! I wonder if my massage people offer it, or something similar... What I do know, though, is that I won't be asking last night's massage therapist to come out again - I'm bruised! And he applied the face mask OVER my make-up! He totally ignored two of my key spots too, my feet and shoulders! Bah. It was over before I thought to ask whether he would spend some more time on them. Plus he had cigarette breath. There's $200 I won't see again... :( Next!

Paleo Grrrl said...

Ewww! Over your makeup?? And the feet are the most important part, IMO. A massage therapist that doesn't give a good foot massage is totally unprofessional.

What I love about Lomi Lomi is that it focuses on "connecting" the different areas of your body with fluid movements. It's heaven on earth.

Darcy said...

So very cool that you are visiting Ottawa in a few weeks! I'm an Ottawa girl - if you need inspiration on things to do while you are here let me know! I've also been Primal for about a year and have become pretty good at finding good eats etc.
Hope you enjoy your visit!

Anonymous said...

Hi, Jezwyn,
I'm sorry to read of your situation and I totally agree with your solution! (not that you need my permission:)

Stress is the beast for many of us...I know it is for me.

I work full-time and attend college, try to workout (Crossfit), take care of my household and pets and, oh yeah, sleep somewhere in there too. It's brutal!

I waver between doing everything right, including strict Paleo eating, and feeling great, to complete breakdown with no excercise, lots of stress eating (esp sugars), and the attendant cortisol induced "muffin-top" (who am I kidding, it's a whole loaf!).

It really gets to me when people look down their noses and say things like, "if you're eating so well and working out so much why aren't you losing more weight?"...BOO!!! When I hear comments like that I swear I can feel the cortisol laying down another layer of fat on my belly.

The stress of not eating, the stress of eating, the stress of not sleeping, the stress of worrying about not sleeping, the stress of working out, the stress of not working out...geez, may I join you in Ottawa? :-)

I will SO miss your pictures, I admit to indulging in the food porn just a little bit. But I think you are onto somethng. If you are always so inviolved with your food, to the degree that you take pictures of everything going into your mouth, that in itself would be stressful. If a person did that with a relationship (boy or girlfrind) they would be labeled "obsessive".

Be well, take care of you, and let the rest fall by the wayside.

Jezwyn said...

Darcy - what a lovely offer! I won't know how much time I'm spending in Ottawa until we get there. If it's sunny as soon as we land, we'll be heading out to a family cottage in the wilderness of Quebec and staying there for the majority of the fortnight. If the weather is less exciting, we may stay for a few days close to civilisation. Last time I was in Canada, we went to La Ronde and checked out Montreal's underground mall, and also saw the sound at light show at the house of parliament in Ottawa. Other than that, it was all family business. What would you recommend? I'll be checking out the central city market at Landsdowne Park, as well as visiting at least one farm.

No matter what we do this time, there will be one key difference - last visit, one of the 'highlights' was to buy EVERY kind of candy and chocolate bar that was available in the supermarket, unless it was also available in Australia. Soooo muuuuch suuugaaaarrr....

Hey Darc! Thank you so much for your comment! Your life makes my stress seem trivial, but I'm certainly glad I'm not alone. I sooo want to put part of your comment on a badge:

"It really gets to me when people look down their noses and say things like, "if you're eating so well and working out so much why aren't you losing more weight?"...BOO!!! When I hear comments like that I swear I can feel the cortisol laying down another layer of fat on my belly."


I will put a few pictures up, when I make meals worthy of being shared, but does the Internet really need another photo of sausages or lamb chops? Naaah! It has been sooo wonderful to stop taking photos and stop feeling awful when I would forget. No more social embarrassment! Hurrah!

It might mean my blog is less interesting, but I'd rather be slender and healthy than pursue some sort of transitory online celebrity! ;) And, in the end, it'll be more effective for readers to see what changes work for me than just experience a continuation of the imperfect normal just because it's what they're used to. Don't fear change! Don't fear success! Take risks! Put that on a button! :P

Anonymous said...

Well said, Jezwyn!

BTW, tonight I'm going to make one of your recipes, with a twist. I'll be making your beef coconut curry but with rabbit that I picked up at the farmer's market last week. This will be a first for me, both the recipe and the meat.