Sceptically Fit


Primal Challenge / January Round Up

Filed under: Personal — Tags: , , , , — Sceptically Me @ 22:45

My 30 day Primal Challenge kind of petered out.  If anything, I really had a primal challenge of  about twenty days with about ten days of testing the 80/20 rule*. My biggest aim in the paleo challenge was to test a bit more of the grains are bad theory than my previous attempts had allowed.  What I wanted to find out is if the type of carbs really made a difference for me – and it does.

Goals Review:

Overall WellBeing

Get eight hours sleep most nights:

  • A complete fail. I have not been getting enough sleep most of the week and barely manage to catch up during the weekend.
  • I have been experimenting with taking vitamin d3 supplements and while its too early to tell I do seem to be sleeping falling asleep more quickly and sleeping better throughout the night

Complete a 30 day Paleo challenge

  • More of a 20 rather than 30 day challenge…
  • Excluding grains makes a difference. Because I’ve started training for a half-marathon, I’ve made sure I’ve been eating more carbs – I’m generally eating more carbohydrates than I did prior to starting this (mostly sweet potato). So its not the macro balance, its the absence of grains especially wheat. Trying rice made me feel more bloated but not as off as wheat. That’s good enough for me to assume I have an intolerance to gluten – although I’m happy to accept further evidence suggesting there’s something more complicated at play
  • I have more energy and despite some personal ups and downs – feel happier.
  • the advantage of failing at the challenge was seeing how well it would fit into my normal life without too much trouble.
  • Did I lose weight? No – I put on half a kilo. However, I did lose 3cm from my waistline and lost approximately 2% of body fat (I average a couple of different calculator results)

Keep my houseplants alive – I solved that one by throwing out my dead houseplants. You can’t fail to keep them alive if you don’t have any…

Fitness Goals

  • be able to do a full pull up – still working on this on. Down to a 7.5kg counterweight on the assisted pullup machine but really feel like I’ve stalled. Will be looking into more exercises to help strengthen up whatever stabilising muscles are underdeveloped.
  • run a half marathon in under two hours in May : This is coming along well. I ran 16.98 km in an 1:50 last weekend. Not fast, but that’s the point. I’m trying to do my long run at a gentle pace well below using up my glycogen reserves. Last year, I was pushing myself faster and was having a lot of trouble with recovery and a crazy appetite. This year, I’m doing pretty well – I’m keeping Friday and Sunday as a rest day (with Wed as a partial rest day), which gives my long run a nice preparation before and recovery after.

Creative/Lifestyle Goals

  • improve my paleo cooking – I’ve made a few things: butternut pumpkin soup and chocolate coconut pudding. More than that though I’ve been inspired by recipes. So that’s a good thing.
  • complete the beginners swing dancing course : three weeks and counting!
  • finish a book a month: do graphic novels count?
  • take the time to indulge my creative side at least once a week: does this count?



*Currently down for maintenance so in case the url’s change I’ll put links to Mark’s Daily Apple guide to the 80/20 principle here. Further 80/20, still further.


Day 26 and 27 of the Primal Challenge

Filed under: Personal — Tags: , , — Sceptically Me @ 00:32

My Vitamin D3 experiment is coming along interestingly – I was late to work today because I’m 99% sure I turned off my alarm without really waking up. I’m still counting that as a success because I never normally sleep that soundly.

I’m also counting as a success the fact that I managed to get to the gym yesterday and today – the lovely world of pms where things just feel so much more effort than they normally do. Except it didn’t. Normally, if I push myself I can manage the same lifts, but at a reduced workout but anything cardio is just too much intensity to push though. But this time there was definitely still the feeling of this is harder than normal. If I’d slept better on Sunday night I’m sure I’d have managed my full routine on Monday. But I did the core exercises (squats, press, romanian deadlift, bentover row, hip thrusts and the exercises my massage therapist had advised me) and was surprised that the squats and the press didn’t feel that hard. I don’t mean they were easy but they both had the feeling like, maybe I’m going to be able to increase weight soon. Today was a hill run routine on the treadmill and I was really expecting it to be hard work. I really wasn’t sure if I’d be able to get to 20minutes. Instead I finished the full 25, and contemplated whether next Tuesday I’ll be putting the speed or the incline level up. If giving up grains means pms becomes so much less of a hindrance – its worth it to me!

Last and final success is one I’m not sure about. I’d been resisting the allure of chocolate for the last two days. I even looked on line while dinner was cooking to see if there was some kind of paleo chocolate dessert I could whip up quickly and easily. In the end I’m pretty sure laziness won rather than self restraint. Trouble with laziness … So I ended up having a dark chocolate bar (85%). I’m not considering having it a problem – a world without chocolate isn’t one for me. But it was clearly some kind of emotional urge rather than really a taste issue. And it wasn’t particularly satisfying. Not in I want more kind of way, but in a food doesn’t solve emotional needs kind of way. Which is good, now I just need to work on what does solve the emotional needs…



Day 23/24/25 of the Primal Challenge with cheats!

Filed under: Personal — Tags: , , , , , — Sceptically Me @ 23:23

The last few days have been a little up and down. Thursday, I felt pretty rundown – work, lack of sleep, personal problems… I pushed myself to get to the gym, but did a fairly reduced workout. I didn’t drop any weight from my lifts but I didn’t do any of the extra lifts. Took refuge in a slightly indulgent sweet potato oven chips, and accidentally at all the lamb steaks instead of leaving one for breakfast.

Friday, a friend hosted Burns Night. So this was my first proper planned to cheat evening. The actual meal itself isn’t too bad from a paleo perspective:  Haggis,  mashed turnips and mashed potato (or neeps and tatties if you will). The haggis contains oats but that’s still gluten free, and since I’ve gotten over my fear of the interesting parts of the animals, it really suits my ecological sustainability concerns to eat all the animal.

We had homemade apple pie which was deliciously tart rather than overly sweet, with a couple of scoops of vanilla ice cream. Well it was only supposed to be once scoop, but mine went flying across the room so I got to have another one (I didn’t know ice cream could roll…). And as well as a few crisps that I helped myself to, we all had two macaroons each that another friend had brought from a French bakery in town. Oh and too much wine.

I felt pretty decent come Saturday morning. Considering I had to sit up for a bit when I got home until the world was still enough to lie down and sleep, I certainly can’t make any guess as to whether the slightly less than optimal stomach feeling was due to alcohol consumption or the small amount of grains/gluten I’d consumed. I don’t think the problem I have with gluten/grain is that dramatic – unlike my friend who was complaining about stomach pains after he cheated on Thursday with a pizza. If it just means I have to avoid wheat as much as possible but can enjoy rice/oats etc at a less than regular basis, I’ll be happy.

As I’ve started my training for the half-marathon in April, Saturday is my long run day. What I learnt today is that while an egg and bacon frittata is a lovely meal to start the day, not if you’re planning on using it to run 14km. I had assumed that all the carbs from the night before (potato, turnips, icecream, pie, booze, biscuits) would have been enough but apparently not. It was a very slow run and I didn’t feel good except for the fact that I finished it (technically 13.95km but as I was aiming for 13km, I’m fine with that).

I had forgotten to pick up any immediate after work out food so decided to experiment with a coconut milk smoothie. Coconut milk blended with frozen berries and a tablespoon of cocoa. Taste-wise it was good, not sure it even needs the cocoa. Problem was it was so very cold that it chilled me too much. By the time I finished drinking it I was shivering uncontrollably. I don’t believe I was in any actual danger, of course, my freezer is not that cold. But after seriously exerting myself my body does tend to lose its ability to keep itself warm (all those years in Australia – I had no idea this could be an issue). So instead of stretching and cooling down properly, I spent about half an hour standing under a hot shower.

After last night’s cheat dessert-wise, I decided dinner was going to have cheese! I hadn’t eaten cheese for almost a month. Taco salad: beef mince with taco flavouring, lettuce, tomato, spring onions, cheese, homemade guacamole (avocado, sour cream and jalapeños blended together). Incredibly tasty – too tasty! I ended up going back for a second dinner and eating all the leftovers that were supposed to be Sunday’s dinner. I know eating protein is good after an extended run to help prevent muscle loss, but I don’t think you need to eat so much your body temperature raises enough to stop you sleeping properly. Though I assume that effect was partly due to the messed up homoeostasis caused by the super chilled smoothie. Oh well, what’s a Saturday without a little overeating…

So my 30 day challenge hasn’t been very pure but its definitely been convincing me this is the way to go. And my reasoning is that by not limiting everything its more like a lifestyle I can keep following. Maybe I’m adding too many elements but I’d been reading so much on the effects of Vitamin d3 on sleep that I’ve purchased a bottle myself. Had my first d3 Friday morning – but my actions haven’t really made this a good test. I figure I’ll have a better idea come Monday.




Day 22 of the Primal Challenge

Filed under: Personal — Tags: , , — Sceptically Me @ 23:56

The joy of winter weather – if this keeps up I won’t be able to cycle to and from work for a while. I find the idea of being blown under a bus a little too frightening. Another dance class – can’t say I’m getting any better but I’m having fun. Diet-wise, another day proving that a high-protein meal is perfect for when you know you aren’t going to get a chance to eat for another seven to eight hours.


Day 21 of the Primal Challenge

Filed under: Personal — Tags: , , — Sceptically Me @ 23:51

So close and my adherence has wavered a little. I went to tapas with friends for lunch and I’m not sure all the dishes were actually gluten free. But I can’t say I noticed any great issue – I realise that doesn’t mean its not a problem. Seems I did need about two weeks to really feel the difference when I started.

Day 20 of the Primal Challenge

Filed under: Personal — Tags: , , , , , — Sceptically Me @ 00:16

I deadlifted 60kg! Considering that’s about 85% of my body weight, I’m pretty happy (work it out for yourself!)

A friend has been doing this challenge with me and he’s also been feeling the benefits. I’ve been far to girly to go into detail of the digestive improvements (lets just say I spent many years being told by doctors that I have IBS) but he has said that his twice-thrice weekly heartburn is gone. He’s ready to say the experiment was a success and have a beer but I think I’ll continue as strictly as possible for the next ten days. I find it interesting that even though he feels so much better he’s fully intending to drink beer again even if it causes him pain. He was even suggesting why bother giving any of it up as he’s definitely having beer. I’ve known people with other food allergies and they’ve all said that once you properly make the connection between something – no matter how tasty – and the pain/nausea it gives you, you really do stop wanting it. I wonder if he’ll feel the same way.

Me? I’m right in the middle of crazy enthusiasm for it. I’ve annoyed my family talking about how grains are evil. I don’t think any of them believe me but they are ok now that I’ve promised them I’m eating enough non-grain carbohydrates. Although I’ll also admit to being rather pleased to discover that one of the best pizza places in town does gluten-free pizza.


Day 19 of the Primal Challenge

Filed under: Personal — Tags: , , — Sceptically Me @ 22:04

Sleeping through most of the day is one way to repair the diet from the night before, something about it also makes me crave nice fresh fruit. Is there anything better than a fresh pineapple?


Day 18 of the Primal Challenge

Filed under: Personal — Tags: , , — Sceptically Me @ 22:00

I don’t just have to plan my nutrition better – I have to remember that I have. So when I commented on getting woozy from taking too long between going for my run and eating – this is because I forgot that I’d bought myself a banana for this very purpose!

Another night with friends – resulted in much less boozing than expected though I’d say I’d had at least one bottle of bubbly myself. I did get snackish but managed to restrain myself from the crisps that were available though that’s probably a conservative estimate of my cashew consumption.



Day 17 of the Primal Challenge

Filed under: Personal — Tags: , , — Sceptically Me @ 17:48

Friday I felt better, but not great. I could now turn my head left to almost shoulder level before it hurt. Fortunately the leg felt fine so I’m guessing that was a very localised overdoing it with swing dancing on Wednesday. By the end of the day I was tired and sore enough to regress to some extra codeine, and some pudding indulgence.

Day 16 of the Primal Challenge

Filed under: Personal — Tags: , , , — Sceptically Me @ 17:42

Thursday represented a bit of a slump for me. I don’t whether it was how I slept, or if it was something to do with the dance class the night before, but I woke up with a sore neck and also the feeling of a pulled muscle on my inner thigh. I wrote it off as a bit of nothing – slept wrong and it will get better – so cycled to work anyway. By lunchtime I was in pain. I had no idea I looked left as often as I do (that was the bad side) and post-lunch downed a couple of ibuprofen-codeine tablets (as the ibuprofen of the morning didn’t cut it).

So work became a write off for the rest of the day – I wonder if eating better to remove digestive issues makes your ability to absorb medication better? And when I got home I dug out the Paleo Comfort Foods that I got for xmas and whipped up the Chocolate Coconut Pudding. That recipe made six serves which I managed to consume in a day and a half. Funny how sometimes codeine completely destroys my appetite and other times seems to spark it – although truthfully it probably didn’t spark my appetite but covered up all the bits of my mind that said I’m not hungry and I don’t need to eat this and let me tap back into days of emotional eating. Still, if one is going to eat emotionally, its better than a lot of other options.

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