Paleo Week 2: An Uphill Battle

by AliMargo on March 2, 2015

End of Week 2: 134.8 pounds 

I know this is the Sopris Chiropractic Paleo Challenge, but this stuff really is like crack!

My mom always said the war with the scale is a “lifelong battle,” and she always had the discipline to maintain her weight and is very fit and very slim now in her early 70s. If there’s one thing I learned this week in the Paleo Challenge is that it might be lifelong, but it is also uphill.

So I gained a little over three pounds this week and was super discouraged. One of the things I really looked forward to about this program was the idea that we would not have to count calories, but focus more on the “quality” of the calories we were eating. I have followed “The Rules” to the letter. I have cut so many foods from my diet it makes my head spin, and not seeing the results I hoped for on the scale was a bitter pill to swallow — not unlike the horse sized fish oil pills I shove into my gullet every night before I go to bed.

Speaking of fish oil, (which I’m pretty certain is part of the reason my complexion looks better than it has in years) it was a tough week, but one that brought some valuable lessons and ended on a good note. I am starting to understand these challenges are the walls we have to push through to get past old habits, and they are going to put up quite a fight. While I was all ready to jump on CalorieCounter.com to try to whittle down my daily intake, I’m starting to understand there is a much easier way to do this: rather than focus on what I’m not eating, or what I can’t eat, is to focus on making smart choices, but with foods I truly enjoy.

A particularly hard day for me was Tuesday when my husband and I had to drive to Denver and back. Road trips are when you want starchy snacks the most, and now I know why. After 8 hours in the car nibbling on raw nuts, an apple and a quick stop at Whole Foods in Frisco for some sashimi, I was so gassy that my pug became airborne, floating through the car like a canine balloon. I realize that’s a lot of information, but it was bad.

Here’s what I learned this week:
Beware of Calorie Replacement: For me, the problem with cutting so many foods out of my diet is the tendency to replace them with other foods. So instead of eating pretzels, I’m snacking on nuts (which are a lot higher in calories). Instead of grains, I’m eating sweet potatoes (high in carbs and sugar and calories). Instead of cheese, mayo (very high in calories). Instead of dessert, granola (the highest in calories of all, and sugar, and fat, and and and ….). I kind of got into a debate with Dr. Scott about why honey is better for me than a dash of Stevia –which has no calories and no insulin response — and he said it was very complicated and had to do with sucrose … but that I should just follow the protocol for these 6 weeks and do what I want afterwards. Okay, fine! God!

Some of these Paleo Foods are very calorie-dense
Here’s my big list of no-nos for the following week: 
Granola
This stuff is like crack and I bet I’m consuming hundreds of calories a day because it is so damned good but not, I repeat, not meant to be snacked on. I swore I was going to give it up last week and then rationalized making another batch because I wanted to bring some to a friend as a gift — the first sign of addiction!!!
Mayo 
it was only after I made 2 batches of the Caesar dressing that I realized there are 110 calories in 1 tbsp of this stuff. I was missing the creaminess of cheese and discovered this when I made Laurel’s delicious Cesar fish. Then I started putting it on everything — salads, as a dip for roasted veggies, etc. No more mayo for me.
Cashews
Another delicious, creamy little fat nugget that is not meant to be snacked on. Gotta watch these as well.
Sweet Potatoes
This has become my new carb and it is dangerous. I can’t eat sweet potatoes as much as I have been because they are still too much carbohydrate for me, I think. I have made chips out of them, pasta noodles, and crouton substitute for salads. I thought if I had them in small amounts, but apparently the scale is telling me another story.

Making pasta out of vegetables is not the same
I tried two different recipes in the last two weeks, one with zucchini and one with sweet potatoes and could not get it right in terms of consistency. The spiralizer I bought sucks: it only has 2 adjustments so the “noodles” are either too thin or too fat. I think at least for now, I’d rather just eat Paleo dishes that are straight forward protein and vegetable preparations that are delicious in their own right without trying to make “fake” Paleo versions of foods that are off the list. (Meatza? Really? Did anyone try that?)

So here’s the good news …
My yoga teacher Emily commented yesterday that I looked much smaller. She’d noticed my body had become more compact and toned and had I lost weight? I told her no, I’d freaking gained three freaking pounds on the freaking Paleo Challenge. She shrugged and said, “Well, you look great …”

It was my birthday on Sunday and I kind of thought I’d have a cheat day but then a funny thing happened. I really didn’t want these foods I thought I missed so much. I did have a pint of beer after my Bowl hike (and it was AMAZING, worth the -1 point) but when we went out for sushi, I was perfectly happy with my negamaki (steak roll with scallion), tuna tataki sashimi, and lettuce wraps with minced chicken and shrimp. Interestingly, the dressing on the side salad on one of my dishes was so sweet I couldn’t eat it (!!!!!!) so maybe there is something happening on the physiological level …. hmmmm …. verrry interesting. For dessert I just picked on the fresh pineapple and strawberries that came on the side. Did not feel deprived at all.

My skin continues to improve and I wish I could explain what a revelation this is. It definitely reinforces my commitment to longterm healthy eating and the realization that I may have an allergy/sensitivity to dairy and/or sugar.

I’m starting to get used to turning to healthy foods to satisfy my cravings. This morning, suffering from a slight hangover on account of that one beer (okay, so I had two beers, including a large Sapporo with dinner after the pint at apres), my body naturally wanted more sugar. So I made a bowl of chocolate chia pudding with sliced banana, a little almond butter and some shredded coconut and it was delish.

My new hangover food--actually quite tasty.

 

Recipes of the Week
Coconut Chicken Satay

This would make a great dish to serve a party, too.

 

Found this one on againstallgrain.com which has great photos and a “dairy free” section that works well for our challenge. This was a new chicken preparation for me: cut a chicken breast into strips and thread it onto skewers and then put under the broiler on high for five minutes each side. Made for a nice brown finish on the outside and still very tender meat. The sauce was very garlicky — I couldn’t eat it alone — but on the chicken it was delicious and lent a lot of flavor to this otherwise blank canvas meat. I served it with an Asian salad (power greens, tangerine slices, avocado) and a dressing I love from Dr. Junger’s Clean cleanse: almond butter, lemon juice, mined ginger, minced garlic, soy sauce, olive oil and a little honey. A delicious, satisfying meal packed with flavor! Would definitely make this again.

Shrimp Puttanesca with Sweet Potato Noodles
This was another one from againstallgrain.com. The sauce was wonderful–a flavor-packed tomato sauce with many layers from anchovy, capers, olives and garlic. But I can not get my veggie noodles to turn out right! I think I need a different spiralizer. Mine only has two settings so the “noodles” are either too wide or too thin. This recipe called for one pan and 15 total minutes of cooking time, but my sweet potato noodles were still very raw so I ended up cooking them for another half hour (still a little al dente) and destroyed my shrimp (which is supposed to be added in for the final 5 minutes). Anyone got a lead on a good spiralizer or tips on how to make good veg noodles? Another mistake: I didn’t peel the sweet potato before I spiralized it and ended up with these strings of skin that peeled away from the flesh of the potato — not very pretty. I would for sure make this sauce again, but I’m not really loving the veg noodle thing so far (as you can tell). And, this is a very high carb meal that I would probably avoid moving forward, at least for now. It would be lovely with a white fish, though.

Who Knew?
I fricking love roasted Brussels sprouts! I can’t get enough of them. I’m going to buy 2 bags today so I can have leftovers.

The Week Ahead ….
I’m really going to try to focus on Paleo foods that are delicious in their own right and not try to make “Replacement” dishes (Sorry, Laurel but I’m soooo not ready to tackle Meatza quite yet). Just simple, quality meats and veggies. While I won’t count calories, I will keep a closer eye on portion size. Yesterday, after a 90-minute hot yoga class and before my Birthday Bowl hike, I grabbed one of those packets of Justin’s Maple Almond Butter and it was the perfect energy food that got me through a couple hours of shredding deep pow. Might also make baggies of nuts that are pre-measured so I don’t “snack” on a 2-pound bag of cashews from the bulk foods section (lest I want that bulk on my body!).

Happy Birthday to me! 45 Years Young!

Paleo eaters, I would love your comments and to hear about your experiences so far.

XOXOX,

Ali

 

 

 

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