Thursday, May 30, 2013

Primal Chai Iced Tea Recipe

One of the things I loved the most on the food bender I allowed myself last week was drinking Iced Chai Lattes at will. I've already espoused my love for Chai on the blog, but it's only grown exponentially since then. With the onset of summer, I have to move away from hot tea (or risk baking myself in the heat). I like iced coffee, but I just don't think I can live 3 months without Chai in my life. I'm that obsessed. Chai tea is one thing but dumping lattes down my gullet non-stop is a big no no, especially for my Primal diet. 

So, I set about devising the following recipe for Chai Iced Tea that comes in around 8 calories per serving as opposed to the 150 usually found in a small skim Chai latte. Pretty snazzy, huh? I can tell you this is one of the simplest recipes I've ever made and one of the best tasting, sweet tooth satisfying treats ever. At only 8 calories a serving, there's no harm in getting a little addicted. Prepare thine gullets, fair readers! Chai deliciousness incoming!

About 8 and is good for one week if refrigerated.

5 cups boiling water
4 cups cold water
12 Chai teabags
Almond Milk
Stevia or honey for sweetener

Total time: 10 minutes of prep, 2 hours of refrigeration.
  1. Bring 5 cups of water to a boil.
  2. Steep all 12 teabags in the pot for approximately five minutes. Don't leave them in much longer even if you like strong tea because it will create a very bitter aftertaste. 
  3. Remove and carefully strain the teabags through a slotted spoon.
  4. Stir in the desired amount of stevia or honey for the whole batch. I like 2 packets per cup, but if your tastes differ, then go for whatever works for you. Stir till all the sweetener is completely dissolved. 
  5. Pour the steeped tea into a pitcher and stir in the four cups of cold water.
  6. Refrigerate for about 2 hours, or until cold.
  7. Serve over ice with a splash of almond milk!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Bend, Don't Break

Hi, my name is Anne, and I've been on a food bender for the last week.

Ice cream.
Breakfast pastries.
Chai Lattes.

I gave myself a pass because I thought I could just get the urge to emotionally binge out of my system- sorta like forcing a kid to smoke an entire pack of cigarettes after you catch them sneaking one.

Thus, I gave myself a week long "foodcation" to have all the things I have missed. On this, the eve of my return to better health, let me tell you what I've learned. 

I can't wait to eat REAL food again.


Fries? I remember them being a lot better than they are. Pizza makes my belly feel heavy and uncomfortably bloated. Sandwiches are great, but I would rather have half than whole. The bread fills me up too fast. It's really what's INSIDE the sandwich that provides the flavor. Next time I'll just eat some turkey. Breakfast pastries are nice, but I've realized they're only worth the calories when they're fresh so it's worth saving them for treats and seeking out really great bakeries on those occassions. Cupcakes are amazing, but simpler and smaller is better. Again, gourmet is the way to go when you get the chance. After a while things stop tasting interesting and everything is just a wash of bread and sugar. 

I've been sluggish. I eat this crap and get the urge to sleep immediately afterwards. I'm writing this blog at 11:24PM because I ate an apple, brie, cranberry, and honey sandwich that caused me to fall asleep while binge watching Arrested Development at 5PM! I never felt that randomly exhausted after a proper meal. This whole week, it has felt like my brain was rebelling against me- like it was repeatedly pressing the snooze button. Giving tours when your mind is ten steps behind you is torture.

When I touch my stomach, it feels BRUISED from being filled with food that doesn't digest easily over the last week.

I also noticed that during this "free period," never did I ever once desire/consume alcohol. 

Lastly, I discovered that working out after filling your body with crap is WAY harder than working out after priming your body with a protein rich breakfast of whole foods. Eating shitty food does not make you want to work out. It's like a self fulfilling prophecy of laziness. You eat stuff you shouldn't and then to make matters worse, it doesn't even put you in the frame of mind where you WANT to work out. How lame is that?

Also, just so you guys know: Food does not make you feel any better about your shitty life. SHOCKER. Even after eating ice cream, you're just sad and filled with dairy and sugar. It changes nothing except that it makes you feel even worse for putting crap in your body on top of everything else. 

So will I never crave any of this stuff again? Of course I will. However, I feel like I successfully proved to myself how much my palette has changed. These cravings are completely mental now because I know what I really want, how this food makes me feel, and how I'd prefer to fuel my body. Did this set me back weight loss wise? Sure, but this was temporary and the small amount of weight I gained will drop away when I get back to my routine. 

Knowledge wise, I feel like this was a right of passage I really needed. It's amazing to feel how much my body is rejecting my old habits and craving the return to my new ones. The key to this whole experiment was to bend for one week so I wouldn't break. I was feeling like I could never have any of that stuff ever again. I was afraid of food and afraid of treats. I felt like I was limiting myself too much and I wondered how I'd ever be able to adjust to Paleo/Primal if I was constantly craving bread and cheese. My emotional stress was driving me crazy and I wanted to eat all the things. Rather than just throw up my hands and give up, essentially breaking and causing MAJOR damage to my body and my psyche, I decided to make a plan with calculated risks so I could get a sense of how hard it would be to really give up all of the foods that going Primal is going to cut out of my life.

Note: I never would have have done this had I not known that I'd have no problem getting back into the swing of things, so I'm not recommending this course of action for anyone who just started a diet and really wants an order of cheese fries. I've been working at this for almost a year now and I know I have no problem returning to my health plan. This is not me telling you, "Sure, live a little and cheat on your diet when you feel like it." If you adopt that excuse, you'll completely sabotage all your hard work. However, if you're on a diet and you've been doing everything right for an extended amount of time and that desire for a burger has been dogging you every day for a month to the point where it's driving you crazy, maybe it's time to get in a good workout, eat a nice salad for lunch and then treat yourself to the best burger you can find so you can get the craving out of your system and refocus your attention on healthier stuff afterwards. Sometimes we have to bend a little so that we don't break and destroy everything we've worked for. 

No matter what, this whole "health thing" is all about what you want to do. It all comes down to your choice. So whatever you decide, own it and learn from it.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Which Diet Tools are Worth Your Money?

I spend a lot of time whining about not having enough money for things and I know there are ton of people out there who make the excuse that weight loss and eating healthy is too expensive. I won't lie to you and say that it's completely free (it hasn't been for me), but you can make well-informed decisions on what products are worth your hard earned cash. 

As someone who would rather spend her tax return on funding her cosplay adventures for the year than on practical household goods, here are the products I have discovered are "must haves" for those interested in doing more cooking and getting healthy. I'm started researching this article from the perspective of someone preparing to eat Primal but I've included recommendations from others who have succeeded in the areas of healthy weight loss and fitness.

Primal Pacs
I live in NYC. I'm on the go and when I'm at work I have to carry food in my pocket and get it down my gullet when I get a spare moment because I don't always get a break. One of my Nerd Fitness Rebel pals suggested Primal Pacs when I asked for jerky recommendations. This product not cheap, but the quality is high and it's perfect for being on the go and without a refrigerator. You can order the grass fed jerky or snack packs with a mixture of jerky, nuts, and dried fruit in large or small bags depending on your needs! You can check out the prices and more information on their website.

Weight Watchers 
I have friends that swear by their online program. They've lost the weight and kept it off. Similar to how I love to use Fitbit to count calories and make sure I'm staying in my deficit zone, the Weight Watchers app offers great on-the-go support to keep you on track and flexible in the real world. Plus if you hate calorie counting, then this could be a great way to stay accountable without the pressure of having to look up estimates constantly. The program accounts for any activity and exercise you log by rewarding you extra points to spend on food. It costs  $48 per month or $65 for 3 months. You can find more information on their site.

This device has changed my life and my diet plan. While I feel way more in control, I also feel a greater sense of freedom. I can monitor my statistics as they happen, I can log food and activity, and be flexible when I need to. Plus, there's no subscription fees for the online program and app. You buy the device for between $45 and $100+ depending on the model you select, and voila! You're ready to roll. I could spend all day espousing the benefits of Fitbit, but I already did that in my review so if you're interested in learning more, you can check it out.

Fit & Fresh 
When it comes to your health, fresh is always better! Primal and Paleo eaters swear by this Fit & Fresh lunch container set when it comes to bringing their meats, veggies, salads, etc to work. This set includes multiple high quality containers to keep everything separate and organized in bento box style plus a cold pack that will keep your food from wilting or going bad if you don't have access to a fridge. You can get it all for $9.09 on Target's website. The price is certainly right!

I love salads and the only reason I don't take them on the go is wilting (which I addressed with the previous item!) and the fact that I can't portion out my dressing and easily keep it separate. Well, with these little 2 tbs squeeze bottles, I can put my dressings in the bottle and pop them into my Fit & Fresh set so that they will stay cool until I'm ready to use them on my salad! Problem solved for just $7.38 by ordering from this website

Food Scale 
It's more important than people realize to measure food when you're on a diet. Learning correct portion sizes is instrumental in discovering how to get the most use out of the calories you have to spend for the day and when you start cooking for yourself, a food scale can help you ensure that when you say you're eating 2 oz of chicken, you actually are. I found I was so afraid of "over" feeding myself that I severely underestimated when it came to weight/portions of solid food and veggies which means I went into starvation mode and my weight loss slowed for months because I wasn't getting enough food. There's a lot of estimating when it comes to calorie counts and you can reduce the guess work exponentially by putting your money where your mouth is, literally. Measuring cups and spoons will only get you so far because measuring liquids is different than measuring solid food. You can pick up a good, affordable food scale from Amazon for just $25.

Paleo Central 
If you are considering a switch to Paleo or Primal, then this app is absolutely essential. You can enter any food or components of a recipe and it will tell you whether it's Paleo or not. It tells you what you can or can't eat in the most simple ways and will give you insight into borderline foods all for $.99 on the iTunes store. There's an Android app available as well.

If you have any recommendations for our fellow Slayers here at Project Reroll, please leave them in the comments!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Embrace Your Inner Rogue: Get Paid

Today's post is going to be a bit of a departure from focusing on the physical and nutritional side of weight loss. After all, you're weight and fitness are not the only elements that determine your happiness. There's this sneaky little bastard called "Quality of Life" and I'm finding that it's pretty important too. 

As I mentioned in my last post, I've been experiencing a lot of stress because it feels like my creative career is going nowhere. I can create things all I want, but if I can't figure out how to monetize my creative endeavors or the skills I use to create them, then how can I expect to pay the bills by doing what I love? Yes, dear readers. It would seem I have a few more stats to reroll on this here quest for greatness.

As actors we're taught to take any job that will have us at the beginning of our careers. Get out there, get the experience, get the exposure, and eventually it will fall into place. Maybe I'm luckier than I give myself credit for, but I have no problem finding unpaid gigs. I've been doing them for years. For every paid acting job I've had, I've probably had eight unpaid full scale productions in which I've been abused by directors, other actors, or frankly, just plain knocked around by an overall unprofessional process. I'm not saying I didn't learn from these experiences or didn't benefit at all, but for the most part, I gained roles to put on my resume and nothing else. That's not without value, but at a certain point, you have to ask yourself if it's worth the time and the energy to commit yourself to unpaid pursuits with guaranteed experience vs. working less, but being able to focus all of your energy on getting those elusive paid opportunities. 

This goes for writing as well. I've been so honored to have so many fellow bloggers ask me to join their staff of unpaid writers/reviewers, but at this point, I don't have have any more time to pour into more unpaid work. I'm organizing the future of Project Reroll so that my amazing community of readers can flourish and share what they've learned on their own health journeys. I already review and discuss geeky topics as an occasional guest-host with my friends on the Anomaly Podcast (which you need to check out if you haven't!). Plus, I am currently managing a very lengthy and involved post production process on a web series that I wrote/produced with a friend. When I turn down these unpaid opportunities, I'm not being snobby. There just aren't enough hours in the day for me not to get paid for any more extra time and effort. My dance card is pretty darn full.

I know I'm not the only artist or entrepreneur going through this struggle, but over the last few days I've realized something surprising. I might be the one who is standing in my way. How am I supposed to receive currency in exchange for goods if I'm afraid to place an actual value on my skills. Obviously, waiting for someone to pay me for things that I've very publicly given away for free is a terrible marketing plan. 

So here's my new goal; It's time to embrace my inner rogue. Would Jayne Cobb work for free? Even Han Solo wanted pay for his fair cut for saving Princess Leia from the Death Star. Bronn might give Tyrion color commentary for free but when it comes to his sword, he's paid to use it in Lannister gold. Well boys, step aside. There's a new rogue for hire in town and her name is Anne!

So how to start on this quest? Like any of the other skills I've "rerolled," I started by creating steps to help me break down my overall goal into more manageable bite sized pieces.
  • Step 1: Determine my marketable skills and be prepared to place an actual value on them. For me these would be acting, writing, and creativity/life coaching. I'm going to think very critically about how to turn these skills into marketable business ventures and place actual values on them so that I can charge for my services. When you fear no one will ask you how much you're worth, it doesn't seem worth going to the trouble to price your skills, but if you don't, then you'll be caught with your pants down when someone does! The ensuing frazzlement could lose you the gig... and they may be confused by your lack of pants. Of course, that doesn't mean I can't cut deals for friends or for projects that I really want to do, but then I'll be ready when someone says, well how much do you charge for that? 
  • Step 2: Do some research on what you should charge. If you get confused or nervous about what you can ask for when it comes to compensation, look into what your peers are charging and how they've managed to get paid jobs in their fields. For me this will mean looking at people I know with similar experience levels who are getting paid and seeing how I can emulate or even undercut them when it comes to price. This step comes to you directly from my uncanny ability to "win" at the Auction House in every MMO ever. Time to get some real-life bags of gold. Lok'tar Ogar, people.
  • Step 3: Be prepared to negotiate and to face conflict. You need to accept the fact that with this new great power to get paid for your work will come more responsibility on your part. If people are actually paying you, they'll have every right to be demanding of your time. You'll have to develop firm hand when it comes to scheduling you're time and dealing with clients. You'll need to come to the table with a strong sense of self and what you do. If you can't face conflict productively or negotiate business deals without collapsing in on yourself like a dying star, then being an entrepreneur isn't for you. You are the CEO, the production line, and customer service rep all in one. You'll get all the praise, all the cash, and all the grief so you have to prepare yourself to deal with all of that. 
  • By Wosukoart on Deviant Art
  • Step 4: Update Your Websites/Create a Store. When you embrace your inner goblin and start shamelessly hawking your wares with a hearty, "I got what you need," you'll need somewhere to direct your traffic. For me, that will mean creating a public listing of my services so that I can give someone my business card with a quick pitch and then send them to my website for a more detailed breakdown of what I'm prepared to offer them. This ties in with the first step of figuring out what you can sell, but in this case, you'll also have to think about how you're going to make it the most appealing deal your client can find. 

Clearly I'm at the beginning of this process and I have no business talking like a know-it-all about this stuff, but this is where I am with it right now. I'll post more about this as I move through the steps and hopefully my depression will dissipate as I make a more active effort to handle this stressful issue in my life. I hope my conclusions and my process provide some inspiration if anyone else in a similar conundrum. If you have any advice for me or other readers, please leave it in the comments!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Killer Guacamole Recipe

I mentioned this in Monday's blog post, but I am loving using Guacamole as a dressing on my salad. Of course you can easily buy guacamole at your local grocery store, but it probably has preservatives and a few other ingredients that you want to avoid if you're trying to eat paleo or primal.
There's only one man I turn to when I want good guac, and that's my father- or as he's been referenced before on the blog, Caldephron, Lord of the Moon, your friendly lvl 1 Night Elf Druid. He never made it off of Teldrassil, but damn can he cook. 

Caldephron's Paleo Guacamole

Serves: 4 people

  • 4 Avocados 
  • 1 lime
  • 1 Small tomato
  • 12 sprigs fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 Cup finely chopped onions 
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 4 Nacho slices (jarred pickled mild or
    medium Jalapenos), finely chopped
  • 2 Cloves crushed garlic
  • 1/8-1/4 Cup extra virgin olive oil
  1. Take your cilantro sprigs, remove the leaves and chop them up. Next, chop up your tomato, onions, Nacho slices, and garlic and dump the ingredients in a mixing bowl.
  2. Add in your cumin and salt.
  3. Cut the avocados in half. Easily remove the seed by giving the seed a quick rap with a sharp knife. If you twist, the seed will come right out. Hand chop or mash the avocado in a SEPARATE mixing bowl.
  4. Add the olive oil and freshly squeezed lime juice to your avocado. You want to be sparing with the olive oil so only add it as needed to get your desired consistency. 
  5. If you're ready to serve, then mix the ingredients from both bowls together and enjoy! If you're looking to use the mixture over the next few days, cover the two bowls with saran wrap. Store refrigerator and mix in the portions you want as needed. It only keeps for a few days so keep that in mind. If the avocado mixture begins to brown, you can scrape the brown bits off the top (it's only a reaction to oxidation).
  6. If you need to keep it longer term, create the avocado mixture, freeze in airtight bags. Then you can thaw out your portions as needed and add in the fresh ingredients when you're ready to eat it.

Monday, May 13, 2013

L2 Boldy Go, Noob

I've been in a really dark place lately. Crazy mood swings, battling severe sweets cravings, not making much progress with my workouts (still doing them!), missing my boyfriend (I know... how emo can I get?), wondering what I'm doing with my life, freaking out over my lack of acting career- you get the picture. It's like walking through molasses... but without being able to eat any of it. Bummer.

My friends very sweetly remind me that I've made some huge strides in my life during the past year. Health wise, I can't deny that it's like I'm a different person. That's just one aspect of my life though and I just feel like a directionless fool most of the time. I try to follow my passions and honor what I love in life, but as far as monetizing my skill sets, I feel like I'm reaching a glass ceiling. What was all my book learnin' even for? If I get healthy, great... but if there's still a mediocre life waiting for me once I get to my goal weight and start maintaining, how the hell am I supposed to stay motivated to be the best me I can be?

This kind of thinking is circular and while I know it does happen to us all from time to time, it's important not to let it take over because it's not productive. I have to stop it before it stops me.

What does all this have to do with Star Trek? The only thing that has successfully helped me decompress is watching Star Trek: The Next Generation with a big mug of Chai tea. Every time the intro played, I thought about words issued by the rich voice of Sir Patrick Stewart.

"To explore strange new worlds; to seek out new life; to boldly go where no man has gone before." Star Trek encourages us to celebrate the spirit of exploration, regardless of the results. After listening to those words over and over, I realized that I should be focusing on what I can do to make my life better rather than all the things that are holding me back or seem to be going wrong. After all, without that will to "go boldly," there won't be any results to speak of. Ergo, the answer to my depressed malaise must be to inject my days with a reinvigorated zest for trying new things.

Research into my upcoming shift to eating/living Primal has certainly given me something new to focus on and has renewed my excitement about what I'm eating/cooking. I've been making huge salads lately and making the shift away from low fat dressings to using avocado or even guacamole. It's amazing how tasty that is. TRY IT IMMEDIATELY!

When I went home, I made it my goal to get in all my workouts to prove that even on vacation, I can make time for my health. I also tried to get my family out on walks and as active as possible. My parents are participating in the walk to Mordor, but they're way behind on our goal to finish by the end of the year so I figured this might encourage them to see what a little extra time spent on simple activity could do for their Fitbit statistics. We did tons of walks both in Chicago and in Michigan and we even took our dogs on a few of them, which was fun.

While away, I realized that breaking up my routine is actually a great thing for stress relief. My mood was vastly improved by taking runs through areas I wasn't familiar with. Maybe my run times weren't as good but it was a nice way to experience the environment and feel a revitalized sense of fun in my workouts. I'm getting that in spades right now because I'm house sitting for my friends who live on the Upper West Side of Manhattan right near Riverside Park while they're abroad in Japan . I'll be here for the next few weeks and the park has gotten me really pumped for my runs, though it's certainly more hilly than I'm used to. However, this halfling does have to be a bit wary as I run past Isengard. There be ORCSES in them thar hills!

I'm also taking care of their kitties, Vivi and Eiko. Despite feeling a little isolated right now  , it's been really fun to have those two around for cuddles, playtime, and light one sided conversation (they're good listeners. DON'T JUDGE ME!). Sadly I don't think there are kittens or puppies in my future at home because of the expense and my inability to keep a steady schedule, but at least for now I have these two cuties to keep me company. It definitely breaks up the tedium of a boring evening alone after an exhausting day of work.

To top it all off, I had a chance to hang with some fellow Nerd Fitness rebels today! I met up with one of them earlier in the day and we enjoyed the near perfect weather as we strolled through Central Park. We even discovered there was a celebration called "Japan Day" going on with tons of cosplayers, traditional entertainment, and free food. Later, we met up up with two more forum members at Brooklyn Boulders to do some rock climbing! I had no idea this place even existed and it as soon as we walked in, it just felt like a giant playground for adults. 

I was really nervous because every time I've tried rock climbing, I've made it a few feet into the air and just hung there in terror until my forearms gave out under the immense stress of my weight. I was sort of nervous the same thing would happen this time and I'd become the red-headed step child of the trendy fit kids club. I knew my new comrades wouldn't really judge me, but I'm my own worst enemy when it comes to criticism and shame spirals (if you hadn't noticed!).

Instead this happened.

When will I learn not to sell myself short? Apparently never.

Tomorrow a bunch of us rebels are meeting up with even more forum members and forming our own "away team" for a day of New York sightseeing and exploration! I'm looking forward to wracking up the miles on my Fitbit, making new friends, and putting my non-deficit day to good use when we settle in for some good vittles! Of course, I have to earn the right to "play" by paying the price in the morning with a four mile Zombies, Run session.

I suppose what I'm trying to say is that I know I haven't fixed all of the things that are leaving this dark cloud over my head. They're still present, but I'm not letting them stop me from seeing the potential that the world has to offer me. I'm still boldly going where no Anne has gone before and I don't intend to stop any time soon.

...See what I did there?

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Primal in Practice

This past weekend, I took a trip home for a family event and decided it was the perfect chance to practice getting away from my Nutrisystem food and start eating Primal for every meal I could with a few indulgences for carrot cake with white chocolate icing and candied ginger at the big event on Saturday night (SO WORTH IT!). I also had a cousin staying with us who is very knowledgeable about healthy recipes and my father who is a caterer, so I made plans to create and try some new Primal recipes with their help. Needless to say, this experience came with some ups and downs, but the important thing was that I kept going.

My only failure happened Friday. I thought I was being smart at the garage party where they were serving hotdogs and bratwurst. Obviously I couldn't eat the buns. I took the romaine they had for Caesar salad and removed the croutons and cheese. Added a spoonful of grilled chicken and cut up a hotdog and bratwurst on top, followed by a spoonful of onions and a spoonful of tomato with one packet of ketchup (I know... terrible but I needed something for dressing that wasn't the ceasar dressing). Had I known there was guacamole upstairs, that whole thing would have gone down very differently. At any rate, I tossed it, ate it (surprisingly good), and then had a chance to look up the hotdog/bratwurst on Paleo Central for stats... only to find that they are really not great options. Obviously I should have checked that before I put the food in my mouth but I was wearing a fabulous dress with no pockets and my bag was all the way upstairs. Sorry guys, I got lazy. Womp womp. It was my one of my first times at bat for the weekend and ultimately I did MUCH better as the days progressed. Baby steps! If you fail and wipe the raid, just rez and make another attempt.

As far as ordering/selecting food while out, my biggest win was ironically also on Friday. I ordered a 12 piece sashimi meal with seaweed salad and pickled ginger. I left out the soy sauce since I didn't think it was worth it to expend my Primal "20%" for the day on a condiment.

Another highlight was cooking broiled swordfish with my dad on Sunday night. He taught me that when seasoning, you should use a little oil to help "carry the flavor," but we were very stingy with the extra virgin olive oil so that we could keep it as healthy as possible- only about one tsp for enough fish to serve three people. Then we used a bit of salt and pepper on both sides and let it sit for about an hour to season (something I would have never thought to do. Most recipes I have tried just say, season it, but give no length of time). Then we popped it in the broiler for about 10 minutes or so and voila! While the seasoning/broiling went on, we sliced some cucumber very thinly and tossed it with 1 tbs vinegar. Every 10 minutes or so we'd toss it again and when we were ready to serve the fish, we plated it and mixed the cucumber with some store-bought seaweed salad. Delicious! Sadly I don't have a broiler in NYC so this isn't a meal I can take back home with me.

I also relied on a staple salad for a few meals. It included baby romaine, 2 oz of chopped up turkey breast, 1/4 orange pepper, broccoli slaw, and 2 tbs low fat raspberry vinaigrette. The second time around, I substituted home made guacamole for the vinaigrette and that was the BEST EVER!

When we ate out at the Bass Pro shop on our way up to Michigan, I ordered the maple glazed salmon with broccoli and substituted a side salad of onion, baby tomatoes, and cucumber for the wild rice listed on the menu. They had no offerings for low fat dressings, so I ordered the raspberry vinaigrette and just dipped my fork in it for every bite to minimize how much I used.

Having been thwarted by vinaigrette all weekend and feeling like the stuff we bought at the store wasn't exactly natural, Dad and I took matters into our own hands and made our own dressing from scratch. Here's the recipe for a single serving. It's super simple if you have the ingredients on hand. In his honor, I'm naming it after his first and only World of Warcraft character.
Caldephron's Raspberry Vinaigrette
  • 2 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp Sherry Wine Vinegar
  • 1 tsp fresh squeezed Lime Juice
  • 10 raspberries mashed up into the mixture.
My favorite thing that we made all weekend was the following egg white casserole. It was completely Paleo, very filling, and the most savory of all the things that we cooked. Thanks so much to my cousin Mel for the recipe! I know it will be a staple for me moving forward. Hmm. You know, "Mel" isn't that far away from Mal, so we'll call it...

Can't Stop the Signal Egg White Casserole

Serves 4-6
  • Preheat Oven to 375 Degrees
  • Wash and chop up one sweet pepper (other options to add: mushroom, onion, tomato, etc. Get creative!).
  • Sauté pepper (and any other veggies!) in lime juice in a skillet (with a cover. This will be used later.). This should take 3-5 minutes depending on desired softness.
  • Place sautéed peppers on a plate and put to the side.
  • Add 4 cups fresh spinach. Add in more lime juice if needed.
  • Cover and let steam for 3 minutes.
  • Uncover and put on plate with peppers.
  • Fill a casserole dish with your sautéed spinach and peppers.
  • Cut up about 2-3 oz. of turkey and spread evenly on top.
  • Pour 1.5 cups of egg whites on top.
  • Add 1/2 cup of salsa on top.
  • Place in oven for 25-30 minutes.
  • Check to make sure it's not runny by giving the dish a shake. It should stand solid with very little "juice."
  • Cut into pieces and serve!
I'd say the weekend was a very successful learning tool and the biggest take away was that I can totally see myself putting this lifestyle change into practice. I do have a few more Nutrisystem meals to finish up, which I'm almost sad about since I was enjoying all the fresh real food this weekend, but I don't want to be wasteful. Once all those meals are done, it'll be Primal all the way for Project Reroll!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Eating Primal: The Game of Thrones Diet

While the Paleo diet can be described as "The Caveman Diet," I've heard people refer to The Primal Blueprint as a more "Medieval Diet"- or as I like to think of it; The Game of Thrones diet. 

Now we're cookin' with wildfire (Note: Cooking with wildfire is not recommended. Proceed at your own risk!). 

Think like a sellsword traveling the King's Road, a man of The Night's Watch, or a member of the Dothraki Horde. 80% of your diet consists of lean meats that are high in protein, eggs, vegetables, fruits, tubers (like sweet potatoes), and nuts (but not peanuts!). You may have a very limited supply of bread, red wine, full fat dairy items, and yes, even deserts if you happen to make it to King's Landing with enough coin, but winter is coming and these delights come at a cost. Therefore they should only be about 20% of your diet.

The main thing to remember is no processed foods. If you indulge in something like a slice of cake or an ice cream sundae, that's your 20% for the whole day. Allotting yourself half a cup of milk daily for tea or coffee seems to be fine, or using a bit of vinegar to aid in your cooking, or the occasional 2 tbs of salad dressing. From what I've found in my research, it's most important to avoid grains as much as possible but again, if you want to make that treat your full 20% for the day and forgo milk in your coffee/tea or a slice of cheese with your fruit, then by all means, indulge away.

So we've covered "The Medieval." Let's talk about the Science. 

Why no grains? Why nuts, but no peanuts? Hell, how can full fat items like milk and nuts, not to mention and high sugar items like dried fruit help you get healthy and lose weight. 

The truth is, grains have gluten and it turns out that most people are so used to how it makes them feel that they don't even realize they have an intolerance. Removing it from your diet for a while and letting your body cleanse/adjust before ingesting small amounts again will help you find out how your body reacts to it. You may find your get stomach aches after eating grains because as they break down in your gut, it can cause inflammation that will disrupt the body's ability to break down food properly, clearly something that is not conducive to weight loss. These effects can also instigate issues with allergies, arthritis, asthma and many other more series medical issues such as Crohn's disease, lupus, and multiple sclerosis. When the affects are seen in the brain, gluten allergies can be linked to depression, anxiety, and other behavioral diseases like bipolar disorder or even schizophrenia.

As for peanuts, they are actually legumes (this category also includes some varieties of beans, lentils, garbanzos, peas, and soybeans). Eating plants is healthy, but what we consume when we eat legumes is actually the seed and it breaks down differently in your body because it contains lectins which can cause inflammation. 

When it comes to fats, the body does require some fatty acids. It does not produce them on its own and therefor we do need to consume some fats, but we need to focus on the right kind and the right amounts. In a nutshell (pun intended!), you want to get your fat from the most chemically uncomplicated source so that it breaks down easily in the body causing the least inflammation and gut/digestion disruption in the breakdown. Thats why olive oil, raw cashews, lean meats, and some full fat cheese are limited on our menu, but not exterminated. What we want to focus on avoiding are trans-fats which have been chemically altered to increase shelf life they often include "hydrogenated" ingredients and will wreak havoc on the body. 

Sugars? Same story. You want to limit yourself to natural sugars found in fruits, but obviously you want to avoid super saturated sugar items like dried fruit because you get a lot less bang for your buck.

In other words:


One thing that attracts me to the Primal Blueprint is that it refers to a whole way of life, not just the food you use to fuel yourself through it. It wants us to adopt the behaviors that kept our ancestors lean, fit, and energetic. These are the basic bullet points.

Keep moving, even at a slow pace. You don't have to do crazy amounts of cardio every day, but you should be adopting an active lifestyle where, like our ancestors, you move around a low aerobic pace for long periods of time. Take a scouting mission beyond the wall, traverse the Dothraki Sea, escort Jaime Lannister to  Kings landing. 

Strength training keeps you lean and your muscles compact. People did hard labor daily! Go smithing with Gendry, spar with The Mountain! 

Speed is important. In the game of thrones, you win or you die. This is a dangerous world and sometimes you need to make an expedient escape from King's Landing to avoid throwing in your fate with Ned Stark or run from white walkers and wildings through deep snow. These aren't daily events, but they do happen and you should prepare yourself! Think like Petyr Baelish. Avoid trauma and always ally yourself with the winning side in any conflict. Be like Arya and become the water dancer! Slip through the shadows catching cats, and adjust to new circumstances as quickly as possible. 

Get sleep! If you're following these guidelines, you'll need your rest in order to face a long day at the head of your Khalasar tomorrow. How else will you have the energy to cross the narrow sea and take back the Iron Throne?

Be adventurous and get outside. Learn something! A mind needs books like a sword needs a whetstone. Tyrion might be small, but he never gives up and he certainly enjoys his sardonic sense of humor when faced with even the grimmest of circumstances. Get out there and make the most of what you have! If you've always dreamed of pissing off the edge of the world, go to the wall and do it!

That's pretty much it when it comes to applying Project Reroll logic to the Primal Blueprint. If you have any suggestions or questions about the Primal Blueprint lifestyle, please feel free to discuss in the comments! I'm doing my best to learn everything I can to make my transition smooth.

Here are some other resources for information:

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Evolution of a Diet Plan

When I started my quest for health, everyone stressed the importance of having a plan. I knew the basics of "healthy eating" because I'd gone to nutritionists and diet counselors before.

I knew I should be eating more vegetables and less carbs. I should stop binge eating when emotional tension runs high. I need to learn how to cook eventually if I want to eat healthy on a budget.

Yet, even with the basics, I needed something to cling to- a daily routine that would get me moving in the right direction and strictly control my portions- something that would dictate exactly what I needed to do.

Enter, Nutrisystem.

This was a great program for me. Honestly it allowed me to learn about portion control and it gave me the variety in foods that I needed to push through the first part of my journey without having to rely on my poor cooking skills. It provided a great online community for support and monthly challenges to keep me motivated.

However, there's not a lot of support for the physical side of things on Nutrisystem. They suggest 30 minutes of activity but they don't have many resources about what activities are best for weight loss or what different types of work outs can help you achieve. In addition, people get used to blindly eating whatever is in their entrees for the day. A lot people on the program have no idea WHY what they're doing is working and it keeps them returning the program because every time they leave, they aren't able to maintain what they've managed to lose. Lastly, it's debatable whether or not it's a "healthy" program. It certainly helps you lose weight. I lost over 100 lbs on Nutrisystem. It works. However, you are filling yourself with processed food constantly and that has it's own disadvantages. You get your four cups of veggies and your snacks, which can be fresh dairy, fruits, and nuts, but everything else comes in a box and is filled with chemicals and preservatives to give it shelf life and approximate the flavors of the indulgent meals you WISH you were eating instead.

I also recently came to terms with the fact that setting a weight goal based purely on BMI can have its drawbacks if you're one one severe end of the bell curve it uses. Let me illustrate.

These graphs were generated by Fitbit to show what qualifies as underweight (blue), healthy (green), overweight (orange), and obese (red).

Here's my chart. I'm 5'1". I am truly hobbit sized.
Here's my boyfriend's chart. He is 6'3". He is Hagrid sized.

He has a range of 52 lbs in his healthy weight section while I'm left with a measly 36 lbs for my target zone, not to mention he can be 240 lbs before he's considered obese! That blows my mind. Clearly there's a lot less of me than there is of him so on that level, yes, my target should be smaller, but also keep in mind that these numbers are applied arbitrarily because they don't take your actual body composition into account. It takes flat weight and does not reflect any knowledge that muscle weighs more than fat. There are professional athletes who would be considered obese on the BMI scale even though they're clearly performing at their physical peak! 

When it comes to any plan, you need to stick with it long enough to make sure you're giving it a chance, but you also need to recognize when it's time to adjust or move on. As your body evolves, your thinking and your knowledge base will as well. Go-to health snacks you were completely enchanted with will start to bore you, things you thought were super healthy may turn out to be the opposite, and activities you hated may become your favorite workouts of the week!

I've come to the conclusion that I'm ready to step away from Nutrisystem and move towards cooking my own food using the Paleo/Primal Blueprint as a model with planned indulgences for special occasions. What I've been doing has been very rewarding for the past 11 months, but changes are on the horizon. I can't stay on Nutrisystem forever anyways and I'm finding that I don't need as much structure to stay on track as I did in the beginning. In fact, the structure is beginning to drive me quite mad at times and that's causing more trouble than its worth.

My weight loss is slowing because I'm getting down to those last few lbs pounds and I've begun doing more strength training. My measurements are reducing drastically and I'm blowing my fitness goals out of the water for my "Big Damn Hero 6 Week Challenge" so I know I'm on the right track. Physically I'm where I want to be (despite having a bit more weight to lose), but I want to fuel my body properly for the work it's doing rather than feeling like I'm filling it with properly portioned chemical packs every three hours.

At this point, I want to focus on eating fresh, whole foods and I'd like to have a little more flexibility when it comes to going out to eat. I'm very tired of being a pack mule and carrying around days and days of Nutrisystem food and I am now confident in my ability to make informed healthy choices "in the wild." Having to stick so rigidly to the Nutrisystem guidelines is driving me more insane than it's worth when what I'm really craving is delicious stirfry for dinner and breakfasts of egg and vegetable omelets! I'm lusting after lean, fresh meat and grilled veggies, people. If there was every a time to make this change, it's right now while I'm excited about it.

Here's a basic idea of what my new diet will include.

Add in plenty of fresh fruit, veggies, and limited servings wheat (1-2 times a week), milk, and stevia for my coffee/tea in the morning and that's pretty much it. I will go into it in more detail in a future post but that gives a broad sense of what I'll be doing.

I never would have been able to handle this type of change in the beginning of this process, so having a way to eat mac & cheese or pizza was necessary to get me over the hump of just simply eating less and changing the basic composition of my meals. However, my palette has changed and I feel more limited by the program than I'm feeling helped. 

I've also got a great track record for choosing my days to indulge and hopping right back on my "plan" afterwards. I'm no longer afraid of breaking from my diet for a day. I don't feel like one off meal will keep me from my goals or destroy the eleven months of progress I've made. That's a huge achievement for me and I think with that should come the reward of more flexibility when it comes to fitting my health plan into my daily life.

So that's the plan moving forward! I intend to finish off this shipment of food, phase out my remaining Nutrisystem dishes, and keep track of my Primal diet using Fitbit to help me hit my desired deficit for weight loss 6/7 days a week. I have ten days till my breakfasts and lunches run out and sixteen until my dinners run out. That will give me enough time to slowly start phasing in new home made primal foods bit by bit. I'll let you all know how it goes and if anyone has any suggestions or questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments!