This is where it begins – My body comp

Body comp, fat percentage
I had my body comp done today. It’s for the challenge, which starts on Saturday.
I wasn’t too surprised by the numbers which you can see on my sheet there.

The takeaway? The body fat is over 23 percent. I think I can bring that down in 8 weeks.

The Whole 30 program has been quite a change for me, and I haven’t even read the book yet. We’ve cut out butter, scaled back on meat and I haven’t had any bacon since we started. We only use coconut oil and olive oil to cook. We’re careful about the kind of nuts we eat and the amount.

Fruit has returned to my diet, but not in a huge way. I’ll eat one or two pieces a day — usually just the one — with a little fat and protein.

I think the biggest benefit is the Whole 30 forces me to take my lunch to work. I can’t eat junk when I pack it myself. It’s a lot easier to stay on track when you don’t go out to eat.

I’ve already noticed the bloating and inflammation is less. My jeans are fitting a little better. I’m not supposed to weigh myself, so I won’t be checking in the the scale until the end of the challenge. I’m not sure what my goals will be. But I have time to think about them.

My cholesterol

I’ve decided to laugh at the huge divide between my experience with nutrition and the gospel that organizations like the American Heart Association preach, particularly when it comes to cholesterol.

They say: Eat “4.5 servings” of fruits and vegetables a day.

I say: Eat tons of vegetables! Some fruit! Way more than 4.5 servings!

They say: Eat “at least three 1-ounce-equivalent servings a day” of fiber-rich whole grains.

I say: NO! to grains. Read this, this and this. Then come talk to me.

But I was hired to do a job, and since I haven’t yet convinced my co-workers and company that Paleo is awesome, I still have to write articles that reflect what the company believes: stuff like “fat is bad,” “whole grains are good.” That kind of stuff.

So I found it kind of ironic when my doctor’s office (a different place) mailed me results from the blood panel they did on a recent wellcheck, and everything LOOKED AWESOME.

Total Cholesterol: 232 (This is high — it should be 125-200 mg/dL)
HDL (good cholesterol): 122 (range to be is is > or = 46 mg /dL)
Triglycerides: 32 (range to be in is < 150 mg / dL)
LDL (bad cholesterol): 104 (range to be in is < 130 mg / dL)

So the skinny is this: even though I regularly eat eggs and bacon, coconut milk, coconut oil, organ meats and other foods and other fats and meats despised by the American Heart Association, my cholesterol is high on the side of “good” and low on “bad.”


What’s your holiday eating plan?

pecan pie and cherry pie on table
Holiday Pies by Andy Castro (from Flickr)

The holidays are coming! The party invitations are streaming in. Family is calling to plan get-togethers and gifts for the kids. And soon, we will be inundated with goodies from every direction.

Anyone who says the holidays aren’t about eating is full of crap.

I’m not too worried about the holidays and food. I already have my strategy. I’ve planned out my indulgences. I mean – come on – it’s unrealistic to say you’re not going to eat sweets at all during the holidays. I have comfort food cravings, but I’m pretty much in control of my cravings at this point. The way I’ve been eating for the past few months has helped knock back the sugar monster inside me, and I can avoid the crap.

I keep the Whole 9 guide to cheating in mind. If I’m going to indulge, it needs to be special. Next week we’re having a special Thanksgiving feast at work that involves lobster and rolls. Yum! And we’re having sweet potato pie with our family Thanksgiving. Mmmmmm!

(Speaking of food, the Statesman’s Addie Broyles had an excellent story this week about paleo. You should check it out!)

I love food, but I also love the results of what I’ve been doing. My weight has been steady, and I’ve noticed my body composition is beginning to change. I see more muscle definition, particularly in my shoulders and arms. Nutrition has made the difference in leaning out and gaining muscle. Eating clean is where it’s at. And I’m sticking with it so I start off 2012 with a bang.

Gotta get through 2011 first and finish on a high note. The cold weather doesn’t leave me as sweaty, and it makes me feel like I didn’t work as hard in class. I didn’t even take off my jacket Thursday morning.

3 x 7 Power Snatch

35-45-50-55-55-(no more time)

AMRAP 8 min
10 ring rows
100m run (sub rowing)
20 situps

Results → 3 rounds + 10 rows + 100m row

For the love of the Games


Saturday turned out to be a rest day, even though I had planned an endurance WOD.
This weekend is the Crossfit Games out in California, and three of the women from Crossfit Central – my gym – are competing as individuals. A bunch of people have been watching the live stream together at Cuatro’s in West Campus, so Beth and I decided to ditch our families and be social.
I’m so glad we did because Steph and her husband Matt were there, as well as a bunch of other friends. The games were on, and we were interested, but it was also our time to “shoot the s&!t” and catch up. It was hard to leave and come back to Mommyland where my oldest had an ear infection and I had to take him to the after-hours clinic at his doctor’s office.
And other than the red wine and fried pickles, I managed to stay on task with nutrition. Sorta. Hey, at least the barbeque I had later that night (because it was too crazy to cook) was Ruby’s grassfed beef brisket. So delicious.
I wonder what Zach will say when he reads my food log tomorrow. Do you think I’ll get a pass because we were “watching” the Games?
Yeah. I know. I need to remember that it’s my goals that take a hit when I don’t pay attention.
Speaking of goals… I finally set some new ones.  More on that later this week.

Weight gain and ‘Helen’

Something’s been bugging me today that really doesn’t affect me.  It just makes me sad.

I’ve been part of the Facebook off-shoot called Circle of Moms, and today I decided to update my profile, add that I’m expecting, get rid of some groups and add a new one.  That new one is for moms expecting in September 2010, and it was one of the recent discussions that bothered me.

This mom was talking about how she was at 25 weeks (in the 6th month), had already gained 40 pounds, couldn’t afford to eat healthy (i.e. eat fruits and vegetables), had no time to exercise, was hungry all the time — every excuse in the world — and yet, wanted advice on what to do about her weight.


But then the comments — nearly EVERY woman that responded said she had gained 60 pounds, or 25 pounds, or some ungodly amount of weight.  One woman said McDonald’s was on the way to work — implying that she just HAD to stop.

Double wha?

That stuff just blows my mind.  I don’t even know how to respond to that stuff expect with my own experience.  Quit eating CRAP!


On a positive note, I’m very happy to report that I’ve gained a very healthy and manageable 12 pounds so far this pregnancy.  I feel strong, I feel good about how I look and Madeline is kicking like crazy, so she must be good, too.

That doesn’t mean things aren’t changing, though.

This morning, we were told to run three laps around the building during the warm up.  I quit after two.  I needed to stop.  Zach started to fuss at me that I have to communicate with him, but I told him, “That’s what I came in here for!” 🙂

We decided it was time to sub rowing for running from here on out.  Running has become too uncomfortable for me to continue for the longer distances.  Although, I’ll probably still try to do some of the 200m runs at home for a while longer.

That meant today’s WOD was modified:

3 rounds
400m run
21 KB swings (M 24K / W 16K)
12 pull ups

I rowed the 400m and used a 12K KB for the swings.  I’m still using the blue band for pull ups, and my kips feel pretty good, but I tired out pretty quickly and had to take breathing breaks every 3 to 6 pull ups.

Time: 14:28

Extra work for today was pretty cool, even though I was really worn out:

25m lunges (I think it was 25m — from the green box to the cars in the parking lot and back)
20 pushups
20 sit ups (knees-to-elbows for me)
20 box jumps (step ups for me)
25m lunges

Don’t know the time — I stopped when Zach told us it was time to stretch.

I was sweaty, and I felt good.  Awesome WOD today.

Meet your farmers

(This post is the third in a series on eating, inspired by the movie Food Inc.  You can read the first post here.)

We have a Saturday morning routine in my family.  First, when it’s still dark, little feet come running into my bedroom, and there’s usually tumbling, giggling and laughing as my husband and I struggle to wake up and my son tries to get us out of bed.  Then, we pile into the car with bags and sometimes a cooler for our morning errands.

First stop is always breakfast at our favorite haunt.  After breakfast, we head to the Saturday morning farmer’s market.  Yay!  So fun!

I remember visiting the Austin Farmer’s Market, which is in downtown Austin on Saturdays, well before Luke was born, and I was disappointed.  There were only a handful of businesses, and most of them did not sell vegetables.

Times have changed.  Since Luke was born, the market has grown and grown until is now takes up a good portion of Republic Square.  There are vendors selling vegetables, eggs, meat, coffee, gourmet deli items, honey, granola, milk…. and what I love is how many people are there.  It feels like a real community!

When tomatoes are in season, we always buy some, and Luke will take one and walk through the market, eating it like an apple.  People are just amazed and have asked to take his picture.

Most of the farmers sell organic or sustainable produce and meat, and it’s nice to meet the people who are actually growing the stuff we’re about to eat.  We definitely have our favorites.  We always stop by Texas Coffee Traders, Blackstone Prairie Farm (when they’re there), many of the meat vendors, and Jake’s Granola (for Luke).  Recently we’ve added Dai Due (incredibly yummy sausages and liverwurst) and have celebrated the return of Way Back When Dairy.

You can tell what vegetables are in season just buy walking around the market.  This past Saturday, I saw a bunch of greens and lettuce, turnips and green onions.  Soon, the spring vegetables will start making their way in — asparagus, carrots, beets.  And this summer, the market will be hopping with all sorts of deliciousness — tomatoes, peppers, squash, peaches, blackberries… the list goes on and on.

What’s also wonderful is that the Austin Farmer’s Market is not the only one in town.  It seems like a new one pops up all the time — people are just more interested in supporting local farmers.

For a list of other farmers markets, go here.  I also love reading a local blogger who goes to farmers markets and writes about her experiences.  She has some great tips: Austin Farm to Table.

Now go to the market and meet the people who grow and produce your food!

The way we eat

Have you seen Food, Inc.?

There’s been a lot of buzz surrounding this documentary on the way food is produced and consumed in the United States, especially lately.  It’s been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary feature and was featured on Oprah.

I don’t watch many movies, and I haven’t gone out of my way to see Food, Inc simply because I read A LOT about food, food production, and agriculture and I know a lot about what Food, Inc. examines.

I don’t know everything, of course, so when my Crossfit gym offered a free screening for I AM Crossfit Challenge clients, I decided to watch.

It was cold in the gym, especially on those hard metal chairs, but it was easy to forget about the cold while watching the movie.

I’ll forgo a “review” and just say that I thought it was very well done.

I did know a lot of what they talked about, but some things were new to me.  I think what horrified me the most was the way a multi-international seed company treats farmers.  I also did not know about laws that have been put in place to keep people from saying anything bad about industrialized food production without legal ramifications.

I also would like to see Kevin’s Law re-introduced in Congress – a law that would give the USDA the power to shut down food manufacturing plants that consistently fail health inspections.  Seriously, I was in tears during that segment – all I could think about was the safety of my own young son.

At the end of the film, the filmmakers had a list of suggestions for ways to change the way we eat and ultimately change the way America eats.  Many of them my family already does.  They include eating organically, patronizing farmers’ markets and planting a garden.

In the next few days, I’m going to talk about a few of those ideas, how my family has implemented them, and how I feel like we’ve benefited.

Sometimes I think it’s hard to make changes in your own life if you feel like you’re the only one going down a particular path.  You have questions, but who has answers?  Well, I don’t have all the answers, but if you read about my experiences, maybe you’ll find inspiration to make changes in your own life.

In case you’re interested in seeing Food, Inc for yourself, check out this trailer:

Carb craving

I wish my current relationship with food was better than it is.  Lately I have been shunning all of my favorites, and despite eating Paleo for months now — barely craving bready carbs all that time — for weeks I have been craving everything I’m not supposed to eat during this challenge.

There was ice cream in the freezer at work yesterday — a gift of 4 new flavors from Blue Bell in honor of National Meteorologist Day.  It was calling my name.  Terri brought cookies to work.  Usually I don’t have trouble walking past them — this week, I paused, sniffed, and wished.

About the only thing I’m also craving that falls in the “It’s OK to eat this” category is Chipotle.  I visited Chipotle for a chicken salad three times this week (Mmmmm — greens, chicken, fajita veggies, salsa and GUACAMOLE).  The folks over at the Anderson store now know me.

And my appetite in inexplicable.  I used to eat on a regular schedule — 3 meals, 2 snacks.  I would be hungry at each one and eat until satisfied.  Now, at some meals, I feel RAVENOUS.   Like this morning, I devoured so much food at breakfast, so fast, I was hurting at the end of breakfast.  But at other meals, I’m just not hungry at all.  Twice this week, I skipped dinner because I just wasn’t hungry.

It’s taking some adjustment learning to listen to my body just enough to feed it good food, but not enough to listen to it tell me to grab a huge handful out of every sample basket in the bread department of Central Market, which is what I wanted to do this morning.  Stupid brain.

The good news is, I’m staying on track and I finished my last workout for week 4!  We’re over the hump!  That Hut’s burger and scoop of Amy’s Ice Cream is only a month away now!

For time:
Power swings  20, 18, 16 … 6, 4, 2
Sprawls 2, 4, 6 … 16, 18, 20
Finish with 5 40 yard sprints

Time: 9:27 @ 15#

This WOD fooled me.  I thought the swings would be hard.  Turns out the sprawls were much harder.

Now for a snack….

Remembering that I am not alone

Sometimes I feel very alone in my decision to eat a Paleo diet.

Food in our culture – let’s face it, in any culture! — is very social.  People make food and share it with their families, friends and co-workers.

In my office, food is extremely social.  Food seems to arrive for the masses on a daily basis from generous Austinites or groups who want their cause to have media coverage.  Recently, I remember seeing pizza, cookies, breakfast tacos, candy and donuts all entering the office and being devoured quickly.

My co-workers used to notice that I did not join the throng queuing up for such treats.  All I said was, ”No thank you.”  Now they shrug and turn away.  They don’t bother offering anymore.

Sometimes it’s sad not joining in with my friends when they stand around gushing over how yummy the Tiff’s Treats are or how wonderful a baker the anchor is (she brings in homemade stuff all the time).  But at the same time, I feel very confident in my decisions.  I’m like a rock who doesn’t mind standing alone.  I don’t mind sharing information about the way I eat, but I try not to be a preacher.  Talking about food can be like talking about politics and religion.  I’ve found people are very attached to the way they eat and the kinds of foods they eat.  It can be just as much of a conversation stopper to discuss our eating habits as it can to bring up the Texas gubernatorial race.

I will say that I am strong in part because of the multitude of people I know who eat the same was as I do and are passionate about it.  We share meals, reveling in the quality of the meat and beauty of the greens we found at the farmer’s market.  We write on our blogs about new recipes we’ve tried and share them with our friends.  We share information back and forth, constantly learning more about the food we eat, where it comes from, and, in the process, more about ourselves.

It is hard to go against “conventional wisdom” sometimes, but a good support network can make all the difference.

Paleo Pot Stickers

You might want to grab a tissue or napkin before reading this, because I am about to describe a recipe for a dish that is so incredibly delicious, your mouth will start watering.

Just thinking about it makes mine water.

A couple of weeks ago, I spotted an article in the New York Times for stuffed collard greens that sounded really good.  I wanted to try them, but without the rice, and Andy came up with a dish from the inspiration recipe that just about knocked me over.

Jiaozi close look from WikipediaPot stickers — called jiaozi in Chinese and gyoza in Japanese — are typically a meat and/or vegetable filling wrapped in a thin piece of dough.  The dough doesn’t work for us, since we don’t eat grains in our house.

Here’s where the greens come in.  We didn’t have collard greens on hand, but we did just harvest a bunch of the chard before the freeze could destroy it.  Ah-ha!

Paleo Pot Stickers

1 lb grassfed beef
½ lb sausage
1 onion, diced and sweated
1 egg
1 tsp mustard (to your taste)
1 tbsp Worstershire sauce (to your taste)
1 tbsp mint (fresh, minced is best)
1 bunch of chard, washed and stems removed
1 tbsp ketchup (optional)
1 tsp soy sauce (optional, and not Paleo)
salt and pepper to taste

Paleo pot stickersFirst, slightly steam the chard leaves on the stove to make them more malleable.  You can use multiple leaves per pot sticker.

Second, mix the meat filling.  In a large bowl, mix the beef, sausage, onion, egg, condiments and mint until homogenous.

(You can experiment here.  We used what we had on hand, but if you like more veggies, different meats or different spices, give those a try.  Adding mint to beef is very traditional Mexican, and it’s something we really like in our house.)

Third, assemble the pot sticker.  Take enough meat to fill just a portion of your palm and shape into a little cylinder.  Place shaped meat on a chard leaf (or more) and carefully wrap.  Set aside.  Continue repeating the process until you’ve used all the meat.

In a Dutch oven or another large pot, put enough water to cover the bottom and place a steamer basket on top.  Place the pot stickers in the steamer basket and cook for 15 minutes over medium-low heat until the meat is cooked to a safe temperature.

(We didn’t use the steamer basket the first time and cook them right on the bottom of the Ditch oven without the water and they came out great.  So that’s an option, too.)

Remove from the heat and serve!