« July 2009 »
1 2 3 4
5 6 7 8 9 10 11
12 13 14 15 16 17 18
19 20 21 22 23 24 25
26 27 28 29 30 31
You are not logged in. Log in
Entries by Topic
All topics  «
Skwigg Blog
Monday, 6 July 2009
Paleo Vegan Monkey Food Thoughts
















I just finished up a month as a vegan. More important than just cutting out meat, my little experiment required me to knock off the cheddar cheese, sour cream, ice cream, butter, milk chocolate, and nacho cheese Doritos. I feel FANTASTIC! I was really hoping I'd feel like dog poo, because then I could say, well see, it doesn't matter what I eat. But no, I'm all lean, energetic and happy, my skin is glowing and I'm sleeping like a lump. Damn it!! Cursed healthy monkey food and all the annoying feel-goodiness...

I went to the doctor to get lab work done today. I'm curious what, if anything, a month of no animal products has done to me. I would like to say that following my fasting bloodwork I didn't drive straight to Jack Stack Barbecue for a slab of ribs, but I totally did that!! OMG! I don't even know what to do with me! Plant eaters will be appalled and the paleo/primal eaters will be jumping up and down. The rib craving started this weekend when, with my judgement clouded by barbecue smoke, I began plotting a yard ninja operation to steal my neighbor's 4th of July ribs out of his smoker. Luckily, I managed to contain myself until I had the blood drawn for the vegan experiment. I don't have the results yet but I'm ultra curious.

I've developed a baffling new interest primal eating and paleo diets. I blame whoever sent me to Mark's Daily Apple a few weeks ago. I totally love that blog! I went over there initially to see what mean things he might have to say about vegans. Much to my surprise, he was smart and funny and I agreed with nearly everything he said.  I was stunned by the number of vegans lurking over there. And I got the biggest kick out of some of his posts like Escape from Vegan Island where he got carted off to McDougall camp, and Spoutin' Off on Veganism (Again) where he explains the obvious pitfalls of living on soft drinks, soy pizzas, wheat crackers and Rice-a-Roni.

Here is what struck me. These modern cavemen who eat mostly vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and meat are actually quite similar to vegans who eat mostly vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and beans. In caveman terms, the vegans are just bad hunters. I think that people tend to stereotype one side or the other and miss the common ground. Not all meat eaters consume a junky, unhealthy Western diet. Not all vegans live on sugar, processed carbs, and soy burgers. In fact, comparing some of the primal and vegan menus I've seen, they're pretty much identical up until dinner time when the caveman might club something over the head and add it to his pile of salad greens. Both sides are concerned about the food supply and the environment. Both sides buy organic, support local agriculture, despise factory farms, etc., etc.. As an outside observer, I found that interesting.

What does it mean for me? I don't know. Now that I've satisfied my lunatic barbecue urge, I think it's right back to plant food. I like it. I feel great. I have fun. Meat or no meat, I think my consumption of cheese and sour cream was out of control and needed reducing. I've broken up with Ben & Jerry. Still, I'm not calling any food off limits or declaring myself a follower of any diet. The more freedom I give myself, the better my choices become and the more I enjoy healthy eating. Nobody could have forced me to follow a vegan diet for a month. I could never have done it as a weight loss scheme, scare tactic, or guilt trip, but left to my own devices and free to make my own choices, it was totally fun. My new mantra is, "I eat whatever I want." And I actually say that to myself A LOT. The more I say it, the happier it makes me and the better I eat. Weird, eh?

Posted by skwigg at 2:10 PM CDT
Updated: Monday, 6 July 2009 2:10 PM CDT
Saturday, 4 July 2009
Quit Blogging?

From the comments:

If Evangeline Lilly has less muscle and more fat than your average *anything*, I'm in the wrong place.  She looks like a bobblehead, she's so thin.  And she's got shoulder muscles and obliques that I couldn't have ever.  Is she 'softer'?  Softer than what, a baseball?  

Until we quit blogging about our menus and workouts and photographing our food, all the while proclaiming we're carefree and happy about our eating and body, we're just not there yet.

Evangeline Lilly has less muscle and more fat than ME during hard training, for example.










Or than the fitness competitors that many of my blog readers idolize and try to emulate.


















I've learned that training harder and dieting more isn't always the answer, and I like to share what I've learned. That's all. If you already know it or don't need to hear it, I'm happy for you. You're way ahead of the rest of us heavy lifting, insane dieting, macronutrient calculating, kookballs.

I've been on a crazy journey from anorexia, to overweight binge eater, to an athlete training hours per day through injury and exhaustion, and now to the happiest and most relaxed I've ever been with food and exercise. I like to share the journey. I guess you're right. I could just say, wow I'm done, and stop blogging, but how does that help anybody else make the connection? And is anybody ever really done learning and growing?

I find it helpful to talk about my nutrition and training philosophy as it evolves. Putting it all out there keeps me focused and honest, and hopefully helps someone else. Now "helping" may mean somebody says, "Wow, she's nuts. I don't want to go down that road."

Hey, if you can't be a role model, be a cautionary tale. ;-)

Posted by skwigg at 9:05 AM CDT
Sunday, 28 June 2009
Food, Inc.

I haven't seen this yet. I am eagerly awaiting its arrival.


Posted by skwigg at 12:53 PM CDT
Sunday, 21 June 2009
Fitness Bliss

There was a post somewhere, I think Leigh's blog again, where somebody sent in their own bikini photos along with pictures of Jessica Biel and Evangeline Lilly from LOST and said, "I want to look like them. What do I do? How much more do I need to lose?" And the surprising answer was that she was already leaner and more muscular than either one of them. She just couldn't see it. So, dieting more and training harder isn't always the answer. Female celebrities are tiny, no doubt, but they tend to carry less muscle and more fat than your average gym rat. So trying to bodybuild or crossfit your way to that physique doesn't necessarily produce the desired results.

I've only recently, like in the last year, acknowledged that bigger and leaner isn't always better. I admire bodybuilders and fitness competitors and I know the dedication involved. It's a beautiful thing if it's what you want, but it's an exercise in futility if your "ideal" is actually smaller and softer. I'm grateful to people like Valerie Waters and Leigh Peele for explaining the size/leanness thing in a way that my frazzled and obsessive brain could finally grasp.

I think I fall somewhere in the middle. I can't stick to the light weights and stretchy bands that celebrities like. I want to be functionally strong and able to do pull-ups and whatnot, but I'm not big on weight machines and heavy deadlifts anymore. I've found a nice groove with the TRX, Pilates, kettlebell, body weight stuff. It's very challenging, but the challenge doesn't come from always going heavier and heavier on the weights. And on the nutrition front, I see that it's not all about chicken and broccoli and six meals per day. If you want a bodybuilding/fitness look maybe it's still about that, but if you want to be a regular person who has nice tank top arms and can wear a bikini to the pool, you don't have to be quite such a spazzy freak about it. It's ok to just be happy.


Posted by skwigg at 1:17 PM CDT
Updated: Sunday, 21 June 2009 1:28 PM CDT
Saturday, 20 June 2009

So, last night in the comments, RG said, "Renee, please just take your calipers out and tell us your body fat.  It doesn't take more than 5 minutes.  I'm betting it's up to 19%"

To which I wrote a fabulous response about how I'm happy with the way I look and the numbers just don't matter anymore, blah, blah, blah...

Faithful readers probably know exactly what happened next. I woke up this morning and went running for the calipers like a lab rat crossing an electric floor for a Froot Loop. :-D

For the five people who care, the average of three 3-site caliper tests was 18.2%, the Tanita scale (fully hydrated on "athlete" mode) says 20.5%, and the mOron hand held (fully hydrated, doesn't have an "athlete" mode) says 22.8%. Since my vague notion of a goal was 18-22%, I would say I'm right in there somewhere.

Interesting tidbit, I once had Leigh Peele and her amazing body fat analyzing eyeballs give me her best guess on my percentage of body fat in various photos that I had a caliper reading to go with. In every case, my self-inflicted caliper readings were about 1-3% lower than her expert guess, which was a relief because it means my readings are at least consistent and close, maybe a little optimistic but not like completely delusional.

So, RG, your 19% guess is probably right on. It's funny how my ideal floats. Lately it's sort of a girly-but-fit look, definitely smaller, lighter, and less ripped in terms of veins, striations and muscle size. Speaking of which, did you guys see the post/comments on Leigh's blog about Bulky Muscles and Female Training? Those survey results blew my mind. Jessica Biel and Hillary Swank are not what I would consider big scary muscle chicks! And I had to watch the video clip twice to figure out which group of women were the "amazons." They all looked the same to me.

I also went back and read a good rant by Josh Hillis about How Thin Is Too Thin. I seem to remember that the first time I read it two years ago, it made me madder than hell. Now, I can't recall exactly why I got so bent. These days, I tend to agree with his 18-23% range for everyday happiness. I also agree that most women can't see it. If they're 18%, they want to be 17%, and if they're 17%, they want to be 15%, and if they're 15%, they still don't like their thighs.

Posted by skwigg at 2:40 PM CDT
Tuesday, 16 June 2009
Pizza Brunch and Veggie Questions

I eat pizza and ice cream every Tuesday. It's a little ritual I've enjoyed for years. Previously, it involved a massive dose of dairy fat. I would have a thin crust cheese and tomato pizza and chase it with a Blue Bunny Champ cone or a single-serving container of Ben & Jerry's. This week, I was a little apprehensive about whether plant food could cut it as a special treat. I should not have worried one bit. This Amy's Roasted Vegetable pizza was eye-rolling delicious! It's mushroom, sweet onion and roasted red pepper in kind of a smoky roasted tomato sauce.

The crust was awesome. I cooked the pizza directly on the oven rack, making the crust crisp on the outside and warm bread yummy on the inside. If I'd eaten this in a blindfolded taste test, I don't think I would have noticed the missing cheese. It was just good. I'm going to buy more of these because I'm positive my non-health nut husband will love them.

I chased my pizza with some dark chocolate Coconut Bliss. It was also rich and delicious and did not disappoint. I learned that you're supposed to take it out of the freezer 5-10 minutes before serving, which makes sense because, even though it has a high fat content, it seems to freeze a little harder than dairy ice cream. Once it gets a bit melty, wow! It's really extra creamy and good.

So, this completes my first week with no animal products except for a handful of milk chocolate M&Ms. I've been adding more plant foods to the What I Eat page. Check out the Scooby snack. That pic cracks me up. I swear I'm going to grow up one day. :-)

I've been getting lots of questions. 

Are you hungry? No. I'm not restricting my food intake in any way, so if I feel hungry I eat. I've been eating three or four times per day and feeling great.

Are you getting fat? Not yet. LOL According to that wacky Tanita scale, my weight is completely stable but my body fat percentage is dropping.

Are you bloated and puffy? Again, not yet. :-D The Tanita hydration readings are running about 3% higher than they do when I'm eating meat. A typical bodybuilding protein and vegetables day is probably a little dehydrating - the "lean out" phenomenon. By eating all plants, I'm fully hydrated and carrying a full glycogen stockpile. I'm enjoying the complete lack of water fluctuations. No false celebration when the scale drops 3 pounds after a low-carb meat and veggies day, no false drama when it bounces back up after pizza brunch.

Are you getting enough protein? I'm getting enough protein to look and feel good and train hard. I may not be getting enough protein to create big ripped bodybuilding arms, but I don't want those anymore so it's all cool.

What happened to being a no-rules happy eater? I am having a BLAST with this. There are no rules, I'm not counting anything, I'm not on a diet, I'm not hungry, and the moment it's not fun anymore, I'll be sure to head for the nearest steak house.

I thought you said soy was evil? I still think that loading up on soy phytoestrogens is a bad idea. I wouldn't eat soy every day or at every meal, but I don't see an occasional (like once or twice a week) veggie burger or serving of tofu as a plateful of poison. I did find frozen veggie burgers with no soy. Amy's California Burgers and Sunshine Burgers. I haven't tried either one yet, but they're on my grocery list. The Engine 2 Diet has a couple of veggie burger recipes using black beans or lentils as the base. As soon as I persuade someone to cook those for me, I'll let you know what I think.

What if The China Study is an evil plot written by a bad man with a hidden agenda? I don't care. The food's good. :-) My primary concern is my own lunch/fun/fitness. I remember when I was a new vegetarian how passionate I was, and how hard I tried to convince everyone that my way was right. And I remember when I was a born-again carnivore, how I did the same damn thing taking the opposite side! Now, I don't care if you're vegan or paleo or flexitarian or locavore (new word I learned). You can be an intuitive eater, a competitive bodybuilder, a Weight Watcher, a binge eater, or an obsessive dieter. I love you all and I'm so happy to hang out with you here in cyberspace. Big hug.

Posted by skwigg at 5:23 PM CDT
Monday, 15 June 2009
Buckle Up

Here's Ripley in her Four Paws car harness. Sara asked if she rides well. Shockingly, she does. She spazzes about everything else, but she's happy to put on her safety harness and go for a ride. There's enough slack that she can stand, sit, or put her head out the window, but if I hit the brakes it locks her to the seat.

After elderly Samantha took a tumble off of the seat, and after Ripley tried to drive a couple of times, I decided it was best to buckle them in. The car harness keeps them secure and out of trouble and it keeps me from getting hit with a canine cannonball in an accident. I like this harness because it's heavily padded and easy to fasten. The seatbelt just slides through the back of it and clicks normally into the seat.

Does anybody else buckle up their dogs? 


Posted by skwigg at 10:55 AM CDT
Updated: Monday, 15 June 2009 10:58 AM CDT
Sunday, 14 June 2009
The China Study + The Engine 2 Diet = Vegan(ish) Skwigg

I'm a vegan this week. I was going along, minding my own business, eating my cheese and ice cream and burgers, and then WHAMMO! Nothing but monkey food!

I suspect some sort of mind meld caused by the confluence of these three things:

1) I saw this mouthwatering video of a vegan pot luck dinner at a firehouse.

2) I read two books: The Engine 2 Diet about vegan firefighters winning triathlons and dropping cholesterol levels 100+ points, and The China Study about turning off cancer, heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer's and the other diseases of Western civilization by eating a plant-based diet.

3) Craig Ballantyne started eating a vegan diet and posting about it all the dang time in his blog.

It was like a perfect storm. I was captivated by images of banana tacos and compelled by the research studies. And by research studies, I'm not talking about something sponsored by a supplement company and involving eight rats or fifteen fat guys. The China Study was a monumental survey of disease and death rates for 880 million people. The project was so big, it involved 650,000 workers. The results were astounding. Read it if you want your mind blown. Don't read it if you like steak. And I mean do not read it if you like steak, because it will jack up your world, and you'll blame me somehow.

I haven't eaten cheese or ice cream in a week, which has to be some sort of record. I was a vegetarian for seven years, but I now realize that during that time my consumption of animal products probably went up - eggs, milk, cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, ice cream, sour cream, cream cheese. I put cheese on flippin' everything, and I wasn't eating that many plants back then. My diet was totally cheese and pasta-based. No wonder I turned into a bloated balloon animal!

I don't know how to explain this turn of events. Good thing I'm used to everyone thinking I'm nuts. :-D I'm not a vegetarian. I'm not a vegan. I won't ever have a hissy if there's an egg in my corn bread or chicken stock in my vegetable soup. I may occasionally order a steak. However, in general, I think I'll avoid most animal products and eat mostly plants because that makes me happy. I'd been eating meat once or twice a week. Now maybe once a month? Once a year? Never? Tomorrow? I can't predict it so I'm just going to roll with it and see what happens.

And now we must address the most serious concern of going all-plants: what about the ice cream?! Never fear, I've found this stuff called Coconut Bliss that is non-dairy but nearly as rich, creamy and boggling as Ben & Jerry's. It's made with coconut milk so it's loaded with fat and it's extra tasty. I have Dark Chocolate and Naked Coconut on hand. I dropped a spoonful of Dark Chocolate on the kitchen floor last night and I picked it up and put it in my mouth before my OCD hypochondriac brain even processed what I was doing. It's that tasty.

So, you're probably wondering what I'm eating. Me too! Wouldn't you know I'd pull this nonsense right after updating my What I Eat page with all the meat photos? I'm still a happy carefree eater but if I keep up this plant kick I guess I'll gradually shuffle in new plant food photos and replace some of the meat photos.

Today I ate:

Banana Taco (It's a banana, peanut butter, and berries in a soft whole wheat tortilla - Craig Ballantyne's idea.)

Green smoothie made with spinach, pineapple and mango

Veggie Chik patty with spinach, tomato, onion and Dijon mustard on a whole wheat bun, pretzels, watermelon

Red pepper strips and baby carrots dipped in cucumber hummus (regular hummus tastes like dirt to me but cucumber hummus is right up there with Dean's French Onion Dip)

Bean burrito with a side of taco veggies, blue corn tortilla chips, a plum and a peanut butter cookie

Yesterday I ate:

Shredded wheat with blueberries and almond milk

Cashews and bing cherries

Veggie burger with lettuce, tomato, and onion; pretzels, grapes

Huge salad made with baby greens, carrots, tomato, and onion; rotini pasta, tomato sauce, Ezekiel garlic bread, Coconut Bliss

Posted by skwigg at 5:52 PM CDT
Tuesday, 9 June 2009
What if I can't diet or exercise?

In the name of posting some text and moving the gross picture of the Luther burgers further down the page, here is a random question from my e-mails this week.

Q: I've tried so many different diets and I can't exercise due to ankle problems. I feel like I'm running out of options. Any advice on what I should do?

A: This is going to sound snarky, and I don't mean to sound snarky at all. I say this with nothing but humor and affection - what's wrong with the rest of your body? If you're talking one ankle (or two ankles) and the rest of your body is fine, you can still exercise. If weight-bearing cardio is out, you can bike or swim. If biking and swimming are out, you can lift weights. If you don't have weights, you can do bodyweight exercises. If mentally, you just can't stand the thought of setting foot in a gym, or sweating, or lifting things, you can do yoga or Pilates at home.

There's always a way to increase your activity just a little bit. It doesn't have to be major. It can be a part of your day- a few leg lifts while you're talking on the phone, some resistance band exercises while watching television, a stretch before bed. Moving even a teeny tiny bit makes you feel better about yourself, which leads to a more positive outlook, better food decisions, and eventual results. It's not a matter of, "I need to burn 500 calories or else I won't bother." You can always do something to improve your situation.

Diets don't work at all, so I don't recommend those. If you go "on" something, you're guaranteed to go "off" or it at some point. Your daily habits should be enjoyable and support your goals. Don't deny yourself anything. Include your some of your favorite foods and routines so you can look forward to your meals. Keep it flexible and fun. It's mainly a matter of learning balance and portion control. It's not a horrible proposition where you're going to starve and never eat carbs and never go to restaurants. I really liked the book Naturally Thin by Bethenny Frankel as a guide to knocking off the dieting and incorporating your favorite foods. Here are a couple of blog entries where I reviewed it: Naturally Thin and Naturally Thin for the Non-Elf.

Basically, what I'm saying is baby steps. You don't have to go on a diet, or take up a grueling exercise program. You just have to move in the direction of your dreams. If you dream of being lean, healthy, and happy, do things that make you feel that way. All of the struggle, uncertainty and pain comes from doing things that are at odds with what your heart wants. If you want to be fit, healthy, and balanced, pigging out on junk food (or not eating at all) is at odds with your vision and will make you feel horrible. If your ankles hurt, deciding to become a runner will create massive mental and physical conflict and make you feel horrible. Avoid things that make you feel horrible and do things that bring you joy.

Health and fitness is a state of mind more than anything else. Change your mind and you change your body. I have this quote stuck on my desk. "You speak your world into existence. What did you say to yourself today?"

Posted by skwigg at 8:56 AM CDT
What I Eat Update
It's late and I'm a little delirious right now, but I think I just updated the What I Eat page, or I dreamed I did. Let me know what you think.

Posted by skwigg at 12:54 AM CDT
Updated: Tuesday, 9 June 2009 8:58 AM CDT

Newer | Latest | Older