I’m going back on a diet.
This whole tornado ordeal disrupted our lives in so many ways, many of which I’ve already detailed in the past few blog entries. The day after the tornado, I was to start a diet. A lot of the food we had to throw out – all of the beautiful meats and fish in the freezer, in particular – was intended for that.
So, instead of getting back on the diet that I sorely needed, I’ve been living off restaurant food… and CHEAP restaurant food whenever possible. Not so great with the diet, so… I just haven’t been.
Now that the kitchen has been cleared out to the point where it’s SORT of safe to be in there – and rebuilding it hasn’t yet started – and now that we’re house sitting, rather than living in a hotel… I’m going to try to get back on the diet. This should be interesting.
Soooo… let’s talk diet.
First off, the background. I was a figure skater as a kid, and still in pretty decent shape when I got in a car accident a little over a decade ago. Mostly bedridden and pretty much just eating a bowl of rice and some OJ each day, I put on 100 lbs in 3 months. I know, the math doesn’t work.
Turns out, my thyroid had declared war on me. Over the years since, I’ve been researching hypothyroidism, hormones, muscle development, adrenal issues, gluten intolerance and, yes, diets… all in an effort to break out of this prison I’d been thrown into.
I could write a book on everything I’ve learned about the body, physiological variation, and diet… but I’ll try to boil things down to blog-sized.
First off, much as there are different body types, and different physiological responses to various forms of exercise, the WAY these different body types respond to diet are different as well. This is why – out of every diet I’ve looked into, researched, or even experimented with – only one diet out there is really perfect for EVERYONE. More on this in a bit!
The way I see it, everyone falls on a bell curve. You have strict vegetarian on one side, you have strict carnivore on the other, and the vast majority of people fall somewhere in between.
Now, to be clear: I’m not talking about personal beliefs, preferences, animal rights, or macho guys beating their chest while grilling. I’m talking about what human bodies are actually built for. It’s for this reason that I wanted to preface all my diet talk with this information. As “luck” (more like Murphy’s Law!) would have it, I’m way over on an extreme end of that bell curve. What this means is that what *I* have to do/eat in order to be healthy isn’t going to work for the vast majority of people, and will be extremely unhealthy for some. So, unless you’re built like me… do as I say, not as I do! While the base diet works for everyone, the specifics should be tweaked for your own body type.
My end of the bell curve? I’m physiologically a carnivore. I put on muscle extremely easily – I like to joke that I can build my quads by even THINKING of going on the leg press! – and once it’s there, it’s impossible to get rid of. YEARS of not working out after the accident, and I retained pretty much all of it.
We’ve since discovered that my adrenal issues seem to account for part of that. I produce too much adrenaline when stressed/angry, and “Hulk up” – blood slams into certain muscles, and I HURT the next day. Well, I noticed that I’ve put on a noticeable amount of muscle in my biceps since the tornado. NO lifting, no working out… but plenty of stress and anger. Put 2 and 2 together – engorging the muscles to the point they hurt the next day? They’re ripping… and repairing. I end up with muscle. THAT explains so much, even going back many years – even as far as my childhood. I was freakishly strong, for no apparent reason. Well, I had a hellish home life, and spent a LOT of time stressed out / angry.
I digress. Aside from / as a result of all of that, I have a much higher than average need for protein – animal protein in particular. When I don’t get enough protein, I feel awful.. Slow, sluggish, and like I can actually feel everything dying off. It’s a crappy feeling. Vegetarianism would never be an option for me, I’d be dead in a month.
I have difficulty processing non-meat stuff. Without getting into details – this IS a food blog, afterall! – fruits and veggies do NOT agree with me, much as I adore them. Grains get me all inflamed – especially wheat gluten, which I’m particularly sensitive to. When I was on Atkins, I did really well – I can/should eat pretty much nothing but meat, and feel AWESOME when doing so. I’ve never had any of the side effects that others go through. Like almost every diet out there, however… Atkins has its problems, and DEFINITELY isn’t for everyone. As for thriving on only meat, it really is the best option for me – aside from it getting boring, and it being hard to not eat fruits and veggies!
On the other side of the bell curve, there are my physiological opposites: People who are long, lean, have an incredibly difficult time putting on muscle, and who can’t process meat properly. Both sides, being on a bell curve, are relatively rare… most people fall somewhere in the middle, as physiological omnivores.
Trying to think what other info is pertinent. Hard to sum up 10 years of diet and physiology theory into a single blog post!
Anyway, if I think of anything, I’ll add it. If you have any questions, ask! I’m happy to clarify!
On to the diet.
I am a big fan of the Paleo Diet. It feels GREAT to be on it, and it really does work for everyone – to the point that it will bring UNDERWEIGHT people *up* to their ideal weight. I really believe that it IS the way we were meant to eat. The diet was conceived by a gastroenterologist in the 70s. Several other people have come out with incarnations of it themselves – and the “physiological bell curve” theory stuff that I discuss is all my own.
Basically, you eat meats, veggies, fruits, grains, seeds, nuts. Food in “as close to nature” form as possible. No sugar, processed food, grains, or dairy. It’s HARD. It’s exclusive. It can get expensive, depending where you fall on the bell curve. You need to be creative with food, and look at basic ingredients in a completely different way. You need to learn to shop differently.
The good news? It makes you feel amazing. If you’re overweight, the weight FLIES off. The food tastes amazing – once you get past the processed stuff, you get a whole new appreciation for the flavor of basic food, in its purest form. You don’t count calories, you don’t count carbs, you just eat when you’re hungry, from the foods that you’re supposed to eat. It’s actually really freeing, once you get past the “YOU WILL PRY THIS CHEESE FROM MY COLD DEAD HANDS!” phase.
Also, you’re allowed 3 / 2 / 1 cheat meal per week. Start with 3, then go down to 2 if you want, etc.
So, as far as my bell curve goes… any body type can do well on this diet. Carnivores like me just eat more red meats, less veggies, nuts, and stuff. Physiological vegetarians eat more plants. The omnivores have it all. The only trick is figuring out where you reside on the spectrum. That right there is at LEAST a blog entry on its own, though. Basically… observe yourself. What are you built like? What do you feel like after eating meat? Vegetables? What workouts work best for you, and how easily do you put on muscle? Just experiment and observe!
I think that covers most of the basics. If I left anything out – ask!
So, how does this all affect my food blog here?
I will be adding Paleo-friendly recipes to the blog, in addition to my regular fatty, sugary, awesome stuff. These diets, while “paleo friendly” and technically diet food… won’t necessarily seem like it. Anyone can serve any of them to a group or dieters and non-dieters alike. This is just good food, without crap in it. For an example, see my “Spicy Tropical Chicken Stir Fry“. SO tasty. Added bonus? It’s all good for people with dairy or gluten allergies! All the recipes will be geared for the middle of the curve. If you’re on the carnivore side, add more meat. If on the veggie side, swap meat for tofu, etc.
I may post personal updates from time to time. I don’t know. Other than that, it’ll be business as usual… with tornado updates tossed in as needed. (We have a roof! No more holes! No more tarps! They’ve got it all rebuilt, and are putting the shingles on now!).
Oh, the photos won’t be as great for these, as we won’t be cooking/shooting them as normal. Some won’t have photos. Some will have camera phone photos. That’s what happens when a tornado smashes your house/home office/studio! So, I’ll beg your patience while we get the repairs done, and while we’re in semi-homeless limbo.
I’m just looking forward to feeling GOOD again!
I leave you with a few feel-GREAT songs… the first 2 of which are my current addictions, the third is an old favorite!
(Isn’t Don Omar – the guy in the navy blazer – adorable? Looks like he’s having as much fun singing the song, as I have listening to it!)