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Friday, August 3, 2012

Popping out of blogger retirement to share awesome news.

"Do you take fish oil?"




"Are you a vegetarian?"

(Chuckle) "Definitely not."

"Well what do you eat to get numbers like these?"


This is the conversation I had with a Dr. this morning.

I’m coming out of blogger retirement with an interesting post. I’ve written in the past how I’ve turned to science – not food marketers or government agencies – to determine what to eat for optimal health. With all the adversity, raised eyebrows, and snide remarks that we’ve faced since going paleo/primal 13 months ago, relying on science has been my rock. I have the studies. I have others' reviews. I have Jon’s blood lipid panels. And I have my own personal observations on how we feel and how everyone is thriving.  But now I finally have my own science that primal works. 

The above conversation took place at a health screening I had to get a slight discount on our health insurance premiums. Prior to going, I was extremely curious about what my numbers would be since getting off grains (the stuff that conventional wisdom tells you is supposed to help your cholesterol, blood pressure, etc.) and increasing my meat and fat intake (the stuff conventional wisdom tells you is supposed to hurt your cholesterol, blood pressure, etc.) Here are the results:

Total cholesterol: 169
HDL: 78
LDL: 59!
Triglycerides: <50!
BP: 92/64
Fasting glucose: 75
BMI: 18.9
Body Fat: 15.4%

 Holy smokes. Even I didn't think they'd be that good.

These numbers kinda kick conventional wisdom in the teeth. I mean, I put butter on my steak for heaven's sake. I haven’t had a single whole grain serving in over a year. I eat bacon and eggs multiple times a week. I don’t count calories. I don’t restrict portions. I don't eat anything low or reduced fat. I put real cream in my coffee. I don’t exercise heavily – just recreationally 1-2x a week (and there is no pounding the pavemenent or merciless hours in the gym. Fun stuff only!) I do eat mountains of veggies and buckets of olive and coconut oil. I eat only white (no brown) rice on occasion. I drink wine and even gluten-free beer. I eat ice cream, too! Primal living is so simple that I put very little effort into being healthy. The only real effort I put out is fighting conventional wisdom and its idea of healthy foods.

Pre-primal, I was 18 lbs. heavier, pudgy, glazed, exhausted, and dissatisfied with muffin tops popping out of my jeans. My outside has certainly changed. Leaner for sure with more energy. And now after today's results, I have evidence my insides have changed, too. :) Because it happened to both my husband and I, I can only assume our kids’ insides are equally as healthy. On the outside they are thriving (strong, healthy, vibrant, no more belly aches, no more eczema or allergies, tapering ADD meds, etc.) My guess – their lipid panels are also awesome.

This really bolsters my determination and confidence to keep my family living this way. I’ll be the first to admit the doubt we’ve faced from friends, family, and even our pediatrician, has caused my resolve to yo-yo a bit over the year. Plus facing the new school year in a few weeks, and all the junk food eating that goes with attending a public school (that's another post), is stressing me out already. It’s a battle to keep my kids primal in that atmosphere, but now…I’m more determined than ever.

Someone recently told me he doesn't eat meat and eats only whole grains for health reasons. I eat meat and avoid grains for health reasons. And I now I have more than my anecdotal observations about how healthy I feel to back up my claim.  I have my own science. 

It feels great.

Our four little primals.

My favorite form of exercise - Stand Up Paddleboarding. Can't get enough of it. This was taken by my husband in my first SUP race. Core & arms getting stronger - meanwhile I'm just having a blast!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A Very Personal Reflection

There have been a lot of transformations going on in our household. I'm not sure where this blog fits into them. You could say I've been neglectful of the blog. My published posts are infrequent at best. But I feel I'm at a place of transition and I'm not sure what role I want a blog to play quite yet. Here's a recap:

Initially, this blog was started to document our challenges as we experimented with a Paleo diet. But we're closing in on 8 months of Paleo...clearly we fully embrace it with no chance of reverting. It's just such a lovely, vibrant way of nourishment.

BUT, we have some Paleo evolving to do. We're not perfect. Lately I've been researching raw foods and figuring out ways how we can merge Paleo and raw a bit better. I really think raw is overlooked as super kooky and crunchy - at least that's how I used to look at it. But as I've fully immersed myself in Paleo, I'm learning even Paleo - as phenomenal as it is - has flaws. Though these flaws are based out of sound thinking. I'm sure this makes no sense to you, but I see some more evolution into even better nutrition for this family and incorporating more raw will play an important part of it.

Also in this health category is our use of mainstream personal hygiene products. Inspired by a little health scare, I've ditched everything mainstream from anti-perspirant to soap over the last few weeks. If I'm focusing so much on what we put in our bodies, I'd be foolish to not pay attention to toxins we put on our bodies. I've been very conscious about that with my babies and kids, but not so much for the grown-ups. And since the hygiene industry is not regulated, this topic may be of even greater concern than food.

Another evolution I see us going through in 2012: getting stronger. And by us I mostly mean me. I don't have weight to lose, but I am not strong. It's time to change that.  I have been tinkering with doing the CrossFit challenge (Paleo and CrossFit are incredibly intertwined). I hate gyms and am I'm extremely attracted to CrossFit's shunning of pounding the treadmill/stair climber/every other machine for hours on end. The CrossFit theory says these are pointless forms of activity. Like Paleo, CrossFit looks to our world pre-modernization for inspiration on how to stay fit. Our ancestors didn't have to "hit the gym" everyday to stay fit. They just lived. They played. They walked. They jumped. They lifted heavy things sometimes. They were outside. To quote "Wheatbelly" - my favorite non-fiction book of the moment - our grandmothers didn't begrudgingly get on the elliptical everyday maintain their trim figures. They vacuumed their stairs (oh, and ate clean food.)

So I'm going to focus on play more. Thankfully I've got a lot of kids that like to do just that. Hiking, jumping, biking, swimming, dancing like a fool with the kids after dinner....and of course paddle boarding once our lakes lose their ice. I'm also going to restart my Pilates obsession that fizzled after baby #3. I used to really enjoy it and found I gained tremendous core strength from it. I also found it was a great way to focus mentally.

Another evolution - taking care of our environment. The Earth gives us everything. We abuse her in return. So our focus will be on: Consuming less. Consuming thoughtfully. Reusing and recycling more. Buying in bulk with my own containers. Reducing our trash output. These are all my goals. Vegetable gardening used to be a part time hobby for me. If it grew, great. If not, oh well. But I'm going to elevate it into more of a priority and become better educated about native plants, soil, and our impact. I'm taking a few classes this Spring and hope to learn more.

We've also been working hard on eliminating the plastic exposure and disposable products in our lives. We've made some great improvements, but there is certainly a lot room to grow on this one. (I'm a paper-towel-a-holic.)

My greenness evolution also means curbing shopping. I've got a family of 6 on 1 income...for me, shopping has always been done thoughtfully with coupons in hand (I actually own and operate a coupon binder.) But I want to evolve even more. That means those Target trips for shoelaces and chapstick that turn into $80 free-for-alls are a thing of the past. If you get down to it, we need very little in this world. Sure pretty things bring us pleasure and shopping is so much fun. But lately it's been getting me depressed and feeling guilty. And if I think about it, I find my most treasured possessions are items I've picked up at thrift stores, yard sales, or that have been lovingly handed down or handmade by friends and family. So curbing the shopping and consuming is a big one for me as part of my evolution. Filling that need for "new" things by reusing and recreating (with Pinterest inspiration!) will be a priority. Spending time with my family doing these activities....even better!

Finally, our last family and personal evolution is of a spiritual nature. Jon and I were both raised in churches - I even went to a Catholic high school. But for us, it's not about declaring a defined religion and reciting repeated prayers. It's about finding spirituality within and practicing it in life with mindful reflection, compassion, forgiveness, generosity, and kindness. We are very attracted to the principles of Buddism and feel like that it compliments the core of most Western religions nicely. Like most of the world's religions, at the core, they're the same. We want to focus on this core and be better people, partners, and parents. We aim to get there through meditation, reflection, and focusing on the simple goodness in life.

So where does Crispy Living fit in? Not sure. Do you know I've got 22 posts written that I've never posted? True story. 22. A lot of the time, I find that just writing things out satisfying. Actually publishing the posts doesn't seem like a necessity. Plus, there is the time trade-off. While I'd love to have a beautiful looking and functioning blog full of unique ideas and insights, that would require oodles of time. I don't know how these seemingly perfect moms do it all. Reading their blogs makes me feel inadequate at times. For me, to get to that stage I'd have to trade in some serious time with my kids and I'm not super willing to do that right now.  I could work on this during the evenings, but that is husband and personal time sacrificed. I've got to investigate where that balance is...if it exists for me at all at the moment.

So there you have it. Not sure what the next step is out here on the world wide web. Maybe I'll get inspired to post more about our evolution and perhaps provide some information or inspiration for others. Then again, maybe this post is my last one for a good long while. I'm going to do a very un-Kim like thing and relax my personal high standards on this topic. Whatever it is, it is. :) :)

Thanks for taking the time to read. I really do appreciate it.
Be well. Be happy. Eat clean!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

It's The Season of Losing
January 1st is America's unofficial kick in the ass to get healthy. This time of year, you can't walk into a store without dodging weightloss system displays and precarious towers of health supplement bottles. Gyms are offering discounts on registration fees and clothing stores are pushing their workout gear. If you're a coupon cutter like I am, you noticed Sunday's circulars were all "healthy" food related. In Costco today, there were 9 pallets - each stacked 5 feet high with vitamins - when you walked in the door. NINE. PALLETS. Good lord.

I guess it seems natural for our country's "Get in Shape" quasi-holiday to hit this time of year. The new year is about a fresh start. Many just spent the last month indulging in everything from sweets to shopping and the decadence and exorbitance of the holidays needs to be shed. Plus, it's 5 short months until bathing suit season...yikes. But whatever it is, the "Season of Giving" is quickly followed by the "Season of Losing"....weight that is.

It occurred to me that during the holidays, you hear the chime, "Don't forget the reason for the season!" implying that the hype and commercialism we are bombarded with during Christmas overshadows the religious and spiritual roots of holidays. It's true. It does.

Well I think the same thing happens in the Season of Losing - hype and commercialism distracting us from true health. Perhaps it also deserves it's own clever little slap-of-reality saying about the time of year we celebrate getting healthy: BACK AWAY FROM THE WEIGHTLOSS SYSTEMS AND PREPACKAGED CRAP. IT WON'T WORK. JUST EAT CLEAN FOOD.

Of course I wish it rhymed a little better.

Now I don't want to sound like a cranky, Paleo diehard. That's not me. Plus, I don't think the web could handle another one. But I can't help but be fearful for folks out there feeling vulnerable about their health, guilty for decisions they've made in the past, and anxious to make a change in their lives. The Season of Losing is fraught with gimmicks and false promises...not to mention chemicals, artificial crap, and just plain nonsense. What shocks me are the blind drones of overweight, unhappy people who buy into and buy the actual crud dished out at them. Then they inevitably fail, become more unhealthy, feel depressed, and are loaded with guilt that they couldn't hack XYZ diet. Shame on American marketing. And shame on shoddy American media.


Did you read that Jenny Craig was voted the 2nd "easiest" diet by US News and World Report? I almost fell on the floor after reading that. Even my 4 year-old would be able to tell you it's pre-packaged, additive laden, highly processed, sugar filled, hydrogenated oil laced, ARTIFICAL ingredient crap with a shiny slogan ("This is my Jenny"....wth does that even mean?) Weight watchers, Nutrisystem, etc. etc. - they're all the same. Why don't people see that they are being sold stuff that is harming their health under the guise of helping their health? And they're paying massive amounts of money for it.

Then there's the mega hype over the DASH diet. Have you read the splash about dash? I'll sum it up for you: DASH diet equals eat the USDA's food pyramid/plate. Supposedly the one influenced the other. But now there are shiny new DASH books to buy, halfway read, and decorate the diet book shelf. While DASH is better than any weight loss "system" for sure, because you are supposed to eat, you know, actual food, it still will end up a failure. Why? Because the USDA has always recommended we eat low-fat, grain-based diets and we're fatter and unhealthier than ever. And we're medicating and dying from totally preventable diseases and record pace. This isn't rhetoric. It's fact.

The diet that made the bottom of the list? Paleo. Not a shocker. It did last year as well. But if US News & World is going to give Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, etc. an A++, I'll gladly accept an F from them on my lifestyle of choice. In fact, if they gave it a higher grade, I would consider it a warning to reconsider Paleo.

There are the five reasons I think Paleo got a poor grade:

1. It is sorely misunderstood. I'm the pickiest, slowest-to-make-a-decision person out there. (Remember my admission that I didn't buy an ipod for 9 years because I wasn't sure they were here to stay?) So for me to have chosen a way of nourishing myself and my family and so fully embraced it, you can be assured I've evaluated the hell out of it. The problem is that most people don't. The main tenant of Paleo - no grains - is initially so absolutely shocking to most people (including myself), their objectivity to understand why we should forego the foods we grew up on and are told everyday is healthy is tainted.

2. It doesn't conform to current recommended dietary guidelines because of the no grain thing. Thank goodness. As is clearly evident by the state of our nation's health, the government's dietary guidelines (you know, the ones that say pizza is a vegetable) suck. If conforming to outdated, incorrect dietary rules influenced by Corn Kings and Monsanto is a requirement for ranking, Paleo is screwed. Oh well.

3. The panelists clearly are still under the well disproved notion that fat and meat consumption increases the risk of pulmonary diseases and ailments. Never mind that before processed grains, such diseases were rare indeed. I won't even get started on this one.

4. These panelists are only aware of half truths. They say we miss nutrients by not eating whole grains. Well it is true - whole grains do have nutrients. But what they fail to mention is that humans cannot absorb them because the proteins in grains bind the nutrients and we don't digest them. So while whole grains may have nutrients while sitting on your plate, they don't end up enhancing your health because they pass right through....I'll let you figure out where.

5. Paleo is not slacker friendly. Paleo is simple - couldn't be simpler actually: veggies, fruits, meats, and healthy fats. But it lacks the ease of picking up a cereal bar or a can of bright pink, milky, fake strawberry flavored stuff and calling it a "meal." And as we are a nation of cutting corners, US News essentially placed convenience above legitimate nutrition to determine its rankings.  Makes sense.

6. You can't really make a lot of money off of it. You can buy Paleo cookbooks. You can take Paleo seminars. But as far as money makers go, that's about it. Paleo is about eating fresh, real food all the time. Because there is no artificial, mass produced foods associated with this diet, there is no way of creating a cheap product and selling it for a mint. Lots of advertising revenue for would be lost if the world ate Paleo. And what would Mariah Carey do for endorsement money? But you know who would benefit if we all ate Paleo? Local farmers and mother Earth. Eat Paleo and discover phenomenol health, bolster your local economy, and create sustainable agriculture for a healthy environment. Win, win, win.

The report did document that:
  • People felt fuller and consumed fewer calories than the Mediterranean diet. (Though you need not fear calorie count on Paleo. It's the kind of calorie, not the quantity of calorie that brings health!)
  • It inadvertently admitted that you DON'T NEED GRAINS FOR ADEQUATE FIBER - one of the first objections people have to Paleo ("No grains? GASP! How do you get your fiber?") The report confirms that with the amount of fruits and vegetables consumed on Paleo, you'll more than exceed your fiber requirements. What it doesn't say, but should, is that the type of fiber you'll consume on Paleo is actually what our bodies were designed to digest - not the knick your intestines on the way down whole grain stuff.  The report should have mentioned that every grain-based diet it ranked risks Leaky Gut Syndrome - the root of all evils. Fix your gut. Get off the meds. Voila!
  • It also admitted that some Paleo studies have proven to lower blood pressure, LDLs, and triglycerides, but then quickly took back that recognition with their oh so vague line, "And all that fat would worry experts," which is linked to another US News generic page on health conditions. No experts. No reference to studies or anything specific. True, my journalism degree is a bit dusty, but even I recognized that's just crappy writing and reporting.  If you're going to make a claim about worried experts and deflate a phenomenal diet's rating because of it, ya better back it up.
Unfortunately, I think there will be lots of losing in this Season of Losing weight: many committed people losing out on truth and the opportunity for real health. And that just burns me. Forget accurate, this report is not fair to Americans - Americans who for too long have been told and sold lies when it comes to their health and food they think is healthy. I wish luck to the many people eager to improve their health, get off their medications, prevent diseases, and add years to their lives. I hope somehow, Paleo ends up on their radar in a positive light.