Six Weeks of Paleo

Torture you'll live with
An inexpertly made meme of an amazing quote.

As the title says, it’s been six weeks of paleo. Six weeks without dairy, grains, refined sugars, legumes, and processed junk. Six weeks of fruits, veggies, seeds, nuts, eggs, and meat. I drink probably too much juice, and cutting down on coffee has not happened… But I’m paleo. I don’t cheat. I don’t even want to cheat. (Well, not much.)

There was cake at work today. Not only did I decline a piece, but I wasn’t even tempted. The only thing going away cake makes me think is, “What about when I go away? Will they get me a cake? I can’t eat cake. I WON’T eat cake. No cake.”

I do have a planned exception: Maple bacon doughnut. It will be a reward for making it west. It probably won’t live up to my dreams, but the thing about dreams is that if you don’t let their realities disappoint, then the fantasies just sit in your head, rotting, infecting your soul with should haves, could haves, and would haves.

What I’m saying is, I need that doughnut.

That quote at the top is something that’s been on my mind lately. “Find the torture you’re comfortable with, and you’ll do well.” It was Jerry Seinfeld and Howard Stern talking about careers. They agreed on the point. Work is torture, but if you find the right torture, you can go far. My work lately has improved: I have more responsibility, I’m more engaged, and I… Kind of like the torture. I put in over five hours today at work… On my day off. That’s who I am now. And for a few weeks I’m actually salaried, so I wasn’t motivated by extra money. I just had shit to do.

My coworker and I might both be in the northwest by the end of April. He could be in Seattle. I could be in Oregon. A couple days ago he gave me one of the best compliments I ever received: he said that my sense of adventure, my attitude of “just pack up the car and go,” had inspired him to apply for the Seattle job. Now he’s a top candidate. I hope he gets it. I hope he has an amazing adventure. And I hope we meet up for drinks in Seattle and toast to having made it out of Maine.

My drink shall be hard apple cider. Small sacrifices in the moment for long-term benefit has been the theme lately, in diet and in career. One can’t just hang out depressed in Maine forever. As Frank Underwood would say, “I pray to myself, for myself.”

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Starting Day 23: Fuck Day 22

Why the fuck would anything nice ever happen?
I don’t know?

It’s after midnight, so it’s a new day. Day 23 of paleo. Great! But first, let’s dwell on what went wrong with day 22:

1. I did not get the job I wanted.
2. I was forced into thinking about what’s going to give: the company I like, the location I want, or more of my life spent in Maine.
3. My weigh in at the gym did not go as I would have liked. Night weigh ins are always tricky, but I always hope they’ll go in my favor anyway. Even after eating Chipotle. I have unreasonable expectations.
4. Some lady at the gym kept being mildly annoying, which I was not in a mood to tolerate.
5. A creepy guy at the gym kept staring. This seems to happen fairly often, and it’s not because I’m that fantastic. It’s because people suck.

What went right: I didn’t break from paleo, even if my guacamole-filled Chipotle dish was not the lowest calorie meal ever. I did go to the gym, and did a mile of level 12 on the elliptical far faster than usual. (The power of anger at work.) I learned that my manager will be out another 4-6 weeks. That gives me a little breathing room. As much as I hate Maine now, Maine will get worse when she gets back. So there’s that.

On the job front: I don’t know what to do. The idea of compromising any of what I want is so abhorrent. I want what I want when I want it, exactly how I want it. I want to move to Portland, OR, now, with my current company, in the career path I want (my current one). I do not want to switch jobs. I do not want a new company. I do not want a different location. I just started watching Portlandia. (I don’t know what it says about me that that makes me want to move there more. Probably that I belong there.)

If I’d started applying to my current position out there back in December, I’d be there already. I wasted time on another position that I was never in a million years going to get. One that now I’m not even sure I want. And because I wasted time, I found myself falling victim to corporate reorganization, and the job I wanted went to someone who was displaced from some other nearby office.

The top manager at my location said he’s gotten turned down for plenty of jobs. I have a hard time believing that, and I don’t really care. Today I was the failure, and that’s intolerable. I got screwed, but there are no excuses. Successes don’t get screwed.

I may be the angriest food hippie on Earth right now.

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Day 6: Baby, You Attract Too Much Attention Sometimes

Or living in an elevator.
One guy called me stuck up. I guess he can consider the deal broken.

I went to the gym today and performed rather poorly. With the new diet (and a recent decrease in coffee consumption), I felt significantly more worn out from start to finish. I’m still adjusting, so hopefully that situation will improve in the coming weeks.

But that was this morning and feels like forever ago. I worked until 10pm, and after that I went to fuel up the Mustang. I never think of it as Saturday night until I’m somewhere and find myself thinking, “What the fuck… Oh, Saturday night.”

One guy spent a few minutes yelling at me. I don’t know all of what he said, and that’s probably for the best.

The next was drunk, I think, and hanging out inside the gas station convenience store. He thinks I should get glow in the dark rims. (That will not be happening.)

The third was a vehicle honking at me and trying to get my attention from the next lane over. After the first two interactions tonight, I refused to look.

Go home Mainers, you’re drunk.

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Photo of Day Five

Two ships off Maine
They both left.

A thought I’ve had a lot lately is that in trying to be everything to everyone, you can end up being almost nothing to anyone. I’m better than I was once, but it used to be that if you asked my favorite color, my answer was, “Why do you ask?” (Or some other similar deflection.)

By refusing to reveal a personality, you risk making yourself entirely irrelevant to everyone. There’s that quote about Howard Stern:

Researcher: The average radio listener listens for eighteen minutes. The average Howard Stern fan listens for – are you ready for this? – an hour and twenty minutes.
Pig Vomit: How can that be?
Researcher: Answer most commonly given? “I want to see what he’ll say next.”
Pig Vomit: Okay, fine. But what about the people who hate Stern?
Researcher: Good point. The average Stern hater listens for two and a half hours a day.
Pig Vomit: But… if they hate him, why do they listen?
Researcher: Most common answer? “I want to see what he’ll say next.”

There’s an important lesson in there.

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Paleo Test Run: Day 4

Louis CK mirror
Pretty sure that Louis CK Quotes on Facebook put this image together, though the stills are obviously from “Louie” (the FX show).

Just a quick update: I’m going to be eating variations of the same thing every day, since I don’t cook. The highlight was getting a salad, but I put dried cranberries on it, and then they tasted sweet (and good) and I realized that they probably had sugar. Oops. I’m still learning what foods to trust (and distrust).

The lowlight was my morning coffee withdrawal headache. I ran out of time to go grab coffee before work, and couldn’t run across the parking lot to Starbucks because they don’t offer almond milk. I had to wait until lunch, and that felt like a very long wait indeed. I was pretty much useless all morning. That almond milk cappuccino became my second best friend in the world, after, naturally, the beautiful Mustang that made possible the journey to obtain it.

Lesson of the day? Being a coffee addict is more difficult on a paleo diet, and requires significantly more planning.

Progress? Not much to report. I think I feel a bit healthier, maybe?

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Paleo Test Run: Day 3

Every day in Maine
It’s never going to end, is it?

I missed a work call today, which then made its way to my former manager. She got promoted, but I don’t have another manager yet. I should have gotten the call, and my heart sank when I called back and found out that it had made its way to her. I fell back asleep, as it was my day off and I’m not generally an “up before 8am on my day off” kind of a girl, and proceeded to have nightmares about things I might not have done right at work.

I’m an hourly employee, for those who don’t know me. I don’t hate my job. It’s okay. But I’m definitely not getting paid for my nightmares. Or all the hours I spend worrying/thinking about my job when I’m not there. Or even the work phone calls that I (too frequently) get when I’m not working. I’m basically donating a lot of time to my company. It’s a good thing I like them.

“I love you a lot, you know?” was something I said to the Mustang yesterday, as I worked hard to get it into the parking lot. Unfortunately, it wasn’t in the proper spot (just as far as I could get it) and I needed to move it today. When I walked outside I saw that it was snowing, again. I thought it would be nice and clear and the roads would be clear and I could get a cappuccino with almond milk. Apparently not.

I tried to move the Mustang, whom I love a lot, and the wheels just spun around and around. I put down sand. Wouldn’t move. I put it in neutral and tried to push it. That did absolutely nothing. I’ve rarely felt less strong. The scene was out of a sitcom. Dumb girl tries to push her own Mustang (not a super light vehicle) while her feet slide on the ice. (Though if it was a sitcom I would have fallen. I didn’t. Hooray for my balance skills.)

Finally, my kind neighbor helped me by pushing the Mustang while I had it in reverse. I was able to get parked in an okay spot, and the Mustang made it clear that it wasn’t going any further than that. Well, fine then.

In lieu of a barista-made cappuccino with almond milk, I resorted to making myself an instant coffee (Starbucks Via) with the almond milk I happened to have bought awhile back. Unfortunately, I discovered it was vanilla almond milk. Vanilla! That sounds like me (I like vanilla lattes and ice cream) (well, I don’t actually like ice cream much, but between vanilla and chocolate I choose vanilla), but it is not paleo. Well, fuck. I still had some, because instant coffee without milk was not a thought I could bear.

It was just a little, and I didn’t even finish the small mug of coffee, so I think I’ll survive. That tiny bit of sugar won’t derail me and I’m still rocking about a 99% paleo score for the first three days. I’ll take it, I guess. And shoot for 100% for the future.

Progress update: I had clear sinuses when I woke up today. That may be something that many people take for granted, but it almost never happens to me. And it didn’t last all day. But… Could it be that a paleo diet will fix my sinuses? Because that would be amazing. I’m daring to hope. (It’s what I do, after all.) I’ve heard of paleo diets fixing all sorts of random ailments, so one never knows.

Three days down, 27 (or a lifetime) to go.

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Paleo Test Run: Day 2 (And the harrowing journey)

Fuck snow!
I’ve cleared a lot of snow off the Mustang this year. So, so much snow.

Day two is almost in the books. I haven’t lost a ton of weight yet, so let’s get that out of the way. I have not found the miracle 48-hour diet. Shucks.

What I did do, was find myself at traffic court at 9am. I contested a ticket from back in December, and got it reduced. Let the record reflect that I was going 14 miles over the speed limit, not 22. (I don’t really know how fast I was going, but I was in the middle of a pack. There’s no pack in Maine going 72 miles an hour.) I’m innocent I tell you, innocent.

What I took from my court appearance:
1. Two rows of seating had signs stating that on “Tuesday’s” they were reserved for police. Tuesday’s what? In court, really? This is what we’ve become?
2. Next time I go to court, I should plan my outfit further in advance. I started with a sweater dress. It was cute, but revealed tattoos. “Hmm,” I thought, “Some people don’t like tattoos.” (Stupid people.) I put on a cardigan. I hated how it looked. I took it off. I put on my leather jacket. “Oh, NOW I look innocent” was my next thought. I liked it though. So I left it. And then put on my winter jacket. I ended up sweltering in my winter jacket in court because it was the only way to seem especially court-friendly.

On the way back from court, I was nearly falling asleep at the wheel. I was so tired. Due to paleo restrictions, I’ve cut down on coffee pretty drastically. I had two shots of espresso from Starbucks yesterday, and it was awful. It was a completely miserable experience. Without the vanilla and the soy milk, it’s almost unbearable. I sucked it up though, and treated it as a very unpleasant medicine. Did I want headaches and exhaustion? No? Then quitting coffee cold turkey wasn’t an option. As it was, two shots of espresso was a lot less coffee than I usually have in a day.

That said, never again. At least not from Starbucks.

Today I opted for a local cafe that offers almond milk. Cappuccino with almond milk. It was… okay. By the end I was almost enjoying it. I was actually sad when it was gone, which was an incredible improvement over, “That was poison. I can’t believe I drink that every day. I’m never drinking that again.”

Work was work, and then it started snowing. And snowing. And snowing. We left early, but not early enough for the Mustang. The girl with the Range Rover drove away with ease. Did I? No. No, I was shoveling my way out with the mighty Snowclaw when one of the guys plowing the lot took pity on me and plowed right in front of my vehicle. Then he helped me shovel the rest. While shoveling he asked me how the Mustang was in the snow.

My no-bullshit response for anyone who asks? “Awful.”

The guy told me he had a Shelby. I said I guessed he didn’t bring it out in such weather. He confirmed that he did not.

I thanked him for his help, started to drive away, and then… promptly got stuck again. Again he plowed. Again I Snowclawed. Finally, I was free.

…Until the first red light. The intersection was a mess. I hoped I would make it through. I tried to will the Mustang through it. I wanted so badly not to get stuck in that intersection. I totally got stuck in the intersection. Right in front of two lanes of traffic. Awesome.

Another helpful guy came to my rescue this time. He offered to push the Mustang while I tried to drive it free. It took me getting stuck multiple times in the same intersection before I was truly free, as well as the help of one additional guy, but the Mustang and I escaped in one piece. (Two pieces if you want to get nit-picky about it, but the saying always was that “horse and rider act as one.”)

The rest of the way was fine, until I needed to stop to shovel my way into my apartment’s parking area. I parked on the street, put the hazards on, grabbed the shovel, and went to work. No big deal. Or it shouldn’t have been, anyway. When I went to drive the Mustang into the space I had cleared, I couldn’t get the traction to make the turn. I widened the opening. Still couldn’t do it. I cleared around the wheels. Still no luck. A truck came up behind me and offered to help. First he suggested backing up to get a running start, which I was trying when I happened to be in the way of another truck with a plow attached.

He plowed in front of me and significantly widened the way into the parking area. I made it. I rejoiced. And hey, my ten minute drive only took about an hour and a half and the efforts of five additional guys.

The one thing that sucks about getting help in these situations, is that my success depends on me driving away. I can’t stop to thank these people. All I can do is vow to help someone else out when I get the chance. That’s cool and all, but I feel rude in the moment. These people deserve cookies. But do I have cookies to give them? No. Because cookies are not paleo.

Day 2 eating: Eggs, dried pears, dried apricots, grapes, walnuts, pecans, bananas, banana chips (both unsweetened and the last of the sweetened ones I accidentally bought on Day 0), some bell peppers, the last bits of my salad from yesterday (with black olives and a couple bites of ham), and a dinner salad of organic spring greens with no salt turkey and mustard for flavor. It was pretty delicious. All of it.

Day 2 summarized: The perils of Mustangs (gorgeous beasts that they are), snow, cold, acceptable coffee, and no real temptation to cheat on paleo. Not yet. So far, so good, but I can’t exactly brag about 48 hours. I’ll be happy when the slightly-too-tight jeans I just bought for dirt cheap fit me.

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Paleo Test Run: Day 1

This photo has nothing to do with anything.
This photo has nothing to do with anything.

Those who know me well know that I’ve started to think a lot about diet and fitness over the last year or so. I tried going raw/vegan for awhile. The raw diet lasted a few days, maybe a week. I was a vegan for longer than that, but it wasn’t a great option for someone who didn’t cook.

That experiment ended in the summer. I started working out in the fall, and with that came protein bars. I wanted to build muscle, I needed protein, and I still didn’t cook. Then, a few months later (okay, yesterday) I realized just how terrible the protein bars were. Ugh. But in an article I was reading about protein, I saw a mention of the paleo diet. I’d seen it mentioned several times before. It was supposed to be pretty healthy, and it made a certain amount of sense to me.

The basic idea of paleo is: People have been around for a long time. Processed food, refined sugar, everything that comes from agriculture, etc., has been around for a lot less time. Our bodies would still prefer to eat the way we ate 10,000 years ago, but we’re all too busy shoving McDonald’s in our faces to care. People who maintain a paleo diet focus on eating meat (grass-fed only), vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds. The stuff a very good hunter-gatherer would eat.

I started reading about this yesterday, and within a few hours I dashed off to Whole Foods to get supplies. This is how I do things. I get an idea, I run with it, and then it works out or it doesn’t. Like moving to Oregon, which I’m totally still going to do. (At this point I kind of have to, both because I’ve talked to too many work people about it to flake out now, and because it’s the perfect place for my weird diet experiments.)

So, I bought raw walnuts, banana chips, raisins, bell peppers, celery, some mixed fruit, bananas, and “no salt” turkey. Salt’s not actually prohibited, I just don’t like it very much. (Full disclosure: The turkey is a bit bland.) None of it was cheap, because healthy food never is. C’est la vie. If anything’s worth the investment, it’s health.

Today is the first of thirty days of my paleo test run. I have heard great things about the results people see and feel, and I’m optimistic. That said, I’m also taking my cue from Cassandra Bodzak, whose job it is to teach the art of happy, healthy living:

“Whether it’s trying the best restaurant in town when you’re traveling, or skipping the gym because your boyfriend made you breakfast in bed, embrace life’s imperfections! It would be so boring if you always did everything perfectly, if you never allowed any room for improvisation. Cut yourself some slack! Be in the present and enjoy that moment, whatever it brings! There will be plenty of days when you can get the salad and make spin class — if adventure and experience calls, don’t be too busy drudging through your cardio workout to answer.”

Translation: When I drive across the country, I’m stopping at In-N-Out. I’ll have a beer if I find myself in a cool pub. The point is to improve life, not to be the drag who can’t have fun because she made too many rules for herself.

I’m kind of excited. And a little hungry. I’m going to get espresso (sans non-paleo modifications).

(“3 Reasons I’m Proud to Be Imperfect” is a good read. Check it out.)

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Photo of the Day: January 24, 2014

Icicle up close.
I haven’t been very inspired lately. I’m still in New England, feeling kind of blah about life (though working to change it up), and cold. It’s something like 4 degrees out right now. But then today I got a telephoto zoom lens, and I was inspired to stand outside being cold for a few minutes.
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