October 21, 2014

Coming Down the Pike

Hey Everyone,

In looking at the last several blog posts, it’s hit me that I’ve been talking about myself an awful lot. And while there’s nothing wrong with that (after all, it’s my blog, so I can write about whatever I want), based on page views, this is not the most interesting stuff for you to read. (People don’t find it fascinating when someone else goes on and on [and on!] about themselves? Go figure!) So I wanted to send out a quick look at what’s coming down the pike after I write about the changes to my diet and exercise that go along with the supplement post and how I’ve been feeling much better lately.

I will still cover my diet and exercise—first, because I said I would, and second, because maybe, just maybe, someone out there will learn something and/or be encouraged or inspired to try something new with their own diet and lifestyle and get moving in a positive direction. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that!

After that, it’s back to our regularly scheduled nutrition and physiology programming, which seems to be more popular, and likely also more educational. I love writing about it, and based on page hits, you seem to like reading & learning about it. (Some of it is old news to some of you, but I know I’ve got a few readers out there who don’t eat, sleep, and breathe this ancestral health stuff, and covering the basics really helps them “get it.” And maybe you learn a little something new along the way, too.)

I have a lot of cool stuff planned for future blog posts, and rest assured, I also plan to make my posts shorter than they have been. (Don’t count on it though…the best laid plans, and all that. I never intend for my posts to be as long as they are; it just sort of happens. Maybe I’ll just find better ways of breaking them up into shorter segments and have 2 or 3-parters that are easier to digest than the encyclopedic-length ones I've been posting. I dunno. Brevity is not my strong suit. I am 5’2”. Perhaps I’m making up in words for what I lack in physical height? Hehheh.)

Okay, so here’s what’s coming up after I cover what I eat and how I move:

October 16, 2014

Better than 80/20 - Supplements

Hello again!

Welcome to the first of three posts wherein I detail what I’ve been doing differently that has me feeling better than I have in years. As promised last time, today’s installment: supplements.

I call myself a nutritionist. So why am I starting off talking about pills, and not food? Well, things started getting a little better when I cleaned up my diet, but what has really made a difference—a huge one—is my new supplement regimen. (And yes, the word we want for this is regimen. Not regiment, which is a military unit, and not regime, which is a political entity [usually a dictatorship], as in, “the Pinochet regime.” [Okay, actually, that last one can be used in the same context, but it’s weird. Don’t do it.] Regimen. Regimen. But none of my intelligent readers is saying “regiment” or “regime” in comments and on forums like the great grammatically unwashed, right? Right. The same way you never talk about how “your” not “loosing” weight.)

I am eating a bit differently than I was back when I posted about 80/20 being a step up from where I was, but in my somewhat educated opinion, I think the supplements are having the biggest impact. Well, no, not exactly. I think the changes to my diet and movement are having a big impact on my body, while the supplements are working their magic in my head.

So back to the pills: Sure, real, whole, unprocessed foods are generally the way we want to go, but when you’re already doing pretty well in that area and you feel like things are still a little off, it’s entirely possible that your healthy diet is falling short somewhere. This is especially true in 2014 America, where we’re chronically stressed, chronically worried, chronically sleep-deficient, and chronically joy-deficient. Sometimes our bodies—and even more so, our minds—need a little somethin’-somethin’ that even the best diet either isn’t providing at all, or isn’t providing enough of.  

When this is the case, there is no shame in supplementation. No shame. Better to admit that you need a little help than to resign yourself to feeling less-than-optimal because you think your sauerkraut, bone broth, and cod liver oil “should” be getting you all the way there. News flash: sometimes they don’t.

Being that the way I’ve been feeling for a few weeks now is like night and day from where I was a while back, clearly my body—and mind!—are now getting something—probably multiple somethings—that they were desperate for.

October 14, 2014

Better than 80/20 -- Update!

Me, circa 10/2014.
I am not actually this slender.
My housemate took the photo at an 
odd angle, and I look “longer” than I am. 
That being said, not too shabby!

Remember a few months ago, when I announced to the world (or, rather, the teeny tiny portion of it that reads this blog) that I felt like a fraud because my dietary off-roading was becoming the rule, rather than the exception? Well, I’m happy to report that I’m doing much better these days—and more than that—I feel fantastic.

Perhaps it’s in poor taste for me to talk about how good I feel and how well things are going, considering the recent passing of my mother. But if anything, I am now more determined than ever to start enjoying my life, and that wasn’t really a promising proposition until I made some of the changes I’ll talk about in the next few posts. Having more experience than I care to admit with feeling bad about myself, I know that having a positive outlook and feeling like the glass is half full is not as easy as just “faking it ‘til you make it.” When you’re stuck in a gloomy, gray box—self-imposed though it may be—it can be darn near impossible to find the lid and climb out. You can’t fake it. I know. I tried. For years. While you are capable of acknowledging that you have things to be grateful for, and that, in many ways, you have a pretty easy, charmed life, your spirit’s response is, “So what?” It doesn’t matter if the glass is half-full when you’re not even thirsty. Recognizing that you are blessed doesn’t always translate into actually feeling good about anything.

Sometimes we need a little help there. And there’s nothing wrong with that. I only regret that it took me so long to find the combination of things that is working so well right now. Will it continue to work in the long-term? I don’t know. But I’m thrilled with things at the moment, and if a time comes when I’m feeling not-so-thrilled, I’ll reassess and retool.

So what’s going on?

October 8, 2014

Armchair Experts


With so many people visiting to pay their respects during the shiva period following my mother’s death, I had the opportunity to overhear many conversations about diet, food, and health. It is amazing what passes for knowledge about these topics these days—and not in a good way.

If you have ever paid a shiva call, then you know that pretty much everyone who walks through the door comes bearing some kind of cake, platter of cookies, fruit basket, or some other food offering, intended to comfort the mourners. Well, the dining room table at my sister’s house was a testament to this outpouring of love and support via sugar and baked goods. For a week straight, it was covered in chocolates, cheesecake, seven-layer cookies, danishes, banana bread, brownies, muffins, bagels, and Edible Arrangements (with pineapples, melon, grapes, and strawberries artfully cut to look like flowers). Not to mention what was in the fridge: about a hundred years’ worth of “real food,” courtesy of many out-of-town friends flooding the local kosher deli with orders to be delivered. (Traditional Jewish-type foods, like whitefish and herring, lox and smoked sable, about eight zillion pounds of cream cheese for the eight zillion bagels out on the table, roast chicken, mushrooms & barley, and a few kasha knishes for good measure.)

As visitors made their way through the offerings, I overheard quite a few explanations and justifications for why people were picking and choosing this or that, and staying away from certain things and reaching for seconds of others. Most of this, as you might imagine, given that I have been driven to write a blog post about it, was total nonsense. (One guy even asked if we had any low-fat cream cheese. *Facepalm.*)

Most of what I overheard had nothing to do with anyone’s individual metabolic or physiologic needs. No one said anything about skipping the bagels because of a gluten issue, or avoiding the cakes because they were diabetic. (The people, not the cakes, hehheh.) Most of it was more along the lines of, “…all that cholesterol is no good for you,” or, “The brown rice is better because it’s a whole grain.” Moreover, these things were said with complete confidence. They were declarative sentences, not questions. These people honestly believed that what they were saying was factual. That they were ironclad truths. And the situation being what it was, I just didn’t have the inclination to call anyone on it. I didn’t want to stir up trouble by asking how someone “knew” that eating a lot of cholesterol is bad for them, or why they said, with complete confidence, that brown rice being a whole grain makes it a better choice. (Better than what? And for whom?)

All I did was sit back and listen, and come to the unsettling conclusion that, when it comes to nutrition, there are enough armchair experts to fill every last chair in every furniture warehouse in America.

And this got me thinking.

October 2, 2014

Book Review: Gaining Ground

Relentless pursuit of a goal.
Ironclad physical and psychological fortitude.
The strength of an ox and an iron will.

If you think I’m listing qualities you’d want in an Armed Forces Special Ops team, hang onto your hat, because who I’m actually describing is a farmer. Add to this list a deep and abiding sense of humor—or a willingness to let the world force one upon you—and I am describing one particular farmer—one I have the honor of knowing personally, and even had the privilege of working for a while back. (More on that in a bit.) His name is Forrest Pritchard, he is owner and Farmer-in-Chief at Smith Meadows, in Berryville, VA, and he wrote a book called Gaining Ground: A Story of Farmers’ Markets, Local Food, and Saving the Family Farm.

Forrest was an English major who graduated from college with the same dream many of my fellow English majors have when we’re twenty-two and still un-jaded: that Simon and Schuster, Random House, or Penguin Books will come calling with a 5-figure advance for our first novel, because even though we are completely unknown—total no-name beginners—they have that much faith in us, and they just know the rest of the world will hang on our every word. 

Well, things didn’t quite work out for me that way (yet), and they didn’t work out that way for Forrest. But considering Forrest already has one successful book on his hands, and is working on a second, he is proof that dreams can come true; sometimes they just take a little longer than we’d like.

September 26, 2014

Once Upon a Time...

Hey Everyone,

The four or five consistent readers of this blog may have noticed that it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. There’s a reason for that. How about I share it with you in story form? It starts with “Once upon a time,” but I’m afraid the ending is a bit different from “happily ever after,” at least, for now. I do believe that will be the ending, eventually.

Before I start, let me say that I am telling this story for two reasons, one selfish and one altruistic. First the story, then the reasons.

Warning: as per my usual, this post is long. Really long. (Cut me some slack this time; I’ve got over two weeks of absence to make up for.) Read it in pieces if need be.  Go get yourself a cup of coffee halfway through and come back. If you’re a cubicle-dweller and I’ve given you a way to kill some time at work, you’re welcome;-)