Sunday, August 30, 2009

ZC: Day 20 - Neptune's Revenge

I knew I was going to have seafood today, so last night I had a strange dream about eating live squid babies while vegans descended on my son. Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed my squid baby breakfast upon awakening. Moving on...

I am not sure how much time I used to spend on meal planning, but I am certain it wasn't a trivial amount. I found new recipes, looked up old favorites, tried to round out the meals with enough vegetation, baked treats (primal or otherwise), strove not to be boring or repetitive, and so on. Meal planning is only one way in which our daily schedules can become littered with thoughts of food. And, of course, it didn't help matters when I'd become sick or lethargic from a simple meal. That was a big time drain, too.

So far, zero carb meals have required little or no planning ahead. It's also less time consuming to cook these meals and (in my kitchen, at least) there is less mess. We know what we can eat and we choose from those limited items. I'm also making some foods in batches, which helps cut down on mess and cooking time even further.

Not having to tend to the kitchen or worry about "balanced" meals, we have more time for fun. I think we've been to the park more times in the past week than we had for the previous month. Part of my mind is still preoccupied to an unhealthy extent with food (or, rather, poisons and non-foods), but it's pleasant to find myself with all sorts of time for various activities for once.

On to today's report.


I had a pretty big appetite today. I got hungry twice, about eight hours apart. I ate beef, pork sausage (no fillers), squid, mussels, shrimp, cheese, butter, egg, mayo, and cream. Total: 3200 calories.

I'm beginning to feel a little nervous about eating according to appetite when my appetite is so large. Funnily, I usually see my biggest losses on the scale the morning after huge meals like this, so I know I've got nothing to fear. It's just that old, dieter mentality. I've seen the numbers fall now and it's sort of addicting. I have to keep reminding myself that I'm in this for my health and my weight will stabilize where it's supposed to be.

The brand of store-bought mayo I used has no carbs but it is made from bad oil and I know it would be best to give it up entirely. I've read about people making butter mayo, which is essentially hollandaise with no lemon. I don't know how long this stage will last, but I am still wanting variety and flavor. I'm willing to drop my seasonings, dairy, and such when it becomes evident that I must do so in order to progress. That moment hasn't arrived for me yet.

Other Stuff

I'm feeling more alert during the day now, even more than I was when the brain fog first lifted. Insomnia is still a problem. I am thinking if I time my evening meal just right, the work of digesting might make me fall asleep earlier. But it might also cause heartburn or bloating, I'm afraid. We'll see.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

ZC: Day 19

Just a quick report, for the sake of keeping up.


Pretty hungry today. I ate beef, chicken, eggs, cheese, and cream. Total: 2700 calories, 75-80% fat. I've read that heavy cream can be the downfall of some ZCers, but I haven't found that it causes cravings so far. Honestly, I don't particularly like it, nor do I find it sweet. It's an easy way to get some extra fat though.

Other Stuff

Nothing interesting or different.

Off to spend some time with the Caveman!

Friday, August 28, 2009

ZC: Day 18 - Trading Old Habits for New

One thing I miss about carbs is eating recreationally with the Caveman. We used to watch Star Trek: The Next Generation reruns after the baby fell asleep and we'd nibble on whatever was around the house, sometimes adding a beer or a glass of wine. Now I am blogging in the living room at night and he is programming, playing Fallout, or falling asleep early.

It's not that we won't find other things to do together. I'm sure we will. And, certainly, food and drink is not required in order to bond with someone or share a relaxing evening. 

It's just a pattern that has to be unraveled and woven again--this time more perfectly.

Oh, it's not that easy though. I shouldn't give the impression that it's so simple. We're both foodies. There's a lot of mourning to be done when you are trading in all your favorite flavorful, creative dishes for meat. (And meat and meat and meat.) We're also junkies. The candy is gone now, too. For me, everything sweet is gone. Getting clean hurts.

It's physically uncomfortable, of course. But more than that, it is disconcerting to restructure one's life in a way that removes an element so familiar and so pervasive. It makes me notice how, in the modern world, half our activities revolve around food: "let's meet for coffee", "bring the kids over and we'll bake cookies", "I made this for your birthday", "if your last name begins with letter A-M then bring a dessert to the potluck..." Furthermore, now there can be no retreating to a plate of something yummy as a reward after a rough day. 

I'm lucky to be in this with the person I love most.


I didn't get very hungry today and ended up eating only 1200 calories (edit: make that 1500--I forgot about cheese). I ate mostly chicken with a little cream and tried to wipe up as much of the fat and oil at the bottom of the pan as I could. I am hungry now, of course, but I am going to wait until morning to eat more because I don't like how my body feels when I eat late.

My fat intake was way too low today. We need to work through the chicken breasts that we already had in the freezer, but they are not fatty enough. That's really too bad, because I can't get enough of the taste of chicken fat. I wonder if someday I will find a butcher who will give me some scraps. I'd love to make schmaltz (without the traditional onions, that is).


I'll stop reporting on POTS stuff until something changes. I am still having the SOB, orthostatic tachycardia, and gray outs. Sometimes I can't stand for more than a couple minutes before I need to sit again (especially if I must hold or carry something), but it comes and goes.

I got a great nap today and am hoping that "sleep breeds sleep" for adults as well as babies.

Energy level was great, aside from times I was extra sleepy or having strong POTS issues. I even went for a run today. That was for the sake of enjoyment, not exercise. My runs are sort of weak and gimpy, given the shortness of breath, but it is a very meditative time for me. 

I'd say I'm pretty much over induction/withdrawal. At this point all of the complaints I have are longstanding issues. Will ZC heal any of this? I don't know. The fact that it has taken away my brain fog has improved my quality of life to a great degree. As I think I've said before, the physical discomforts of POTS are so much more bearable when I can remain calm and be myself, rather than walking around in a confused haze half the time. That's a lot to celebrate!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

ZC: Day 17 - Zero Carbage at McDonald's

I think we're finally getting over the hump.


I didn't get hungry until about 2 pm. Since I was out of the house at the time, I stopped at McDonald's for a McDouble with no ketchup or bun (and gave the pickles and onions to the Caveboy). The boy actually had his own bunless burger as well. To my surprise, he did not complain but only talked about how delicious it was. (Well, he did ask repeatedly for a Diet Coke. Gah. I can't believe I ever willingly gave him that stuff.)

Aside from a tiny taste of an egg dish, I think all I ate today was ground beef, tallow, cheese, mustard, and cream. Calories totalled 2300, about 75% from fat.

Signs of hunger seem regulated again. I am back to using the steak test rather than feeling my stomach growl. The nausea has been much better today.

Other Stuff

Still lots of shortness of breath, especially on exertion. My mom suggested this may be exacerbated by the insomnia. I have no clue how I'm going to fix that, but with a little more time maybe it will fix itself. I had a couple instances of vision loss and I can tell I'm still tachycardic on standing but it is not uncomfortable anymore.

Otherwise I felt very good today. My head was clear and my energy level was high.

I'm just so sleepy. Maybe tonight will be the night I can turn in early and catch up.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

ZC: Day 16 - Beware the Food Additives

The chicken wings I ate yesterday contained modified food starch--probably a light dusting to prevent the meat from dripping when defrosted, according to wikipedia. I knew about this before I ate them, but I wrote it off, thinking the amount would be too tiny to have any impact on how I feel.

As it turns out, even this small amount of starch may have been enough to mess with my feelings of hunger and satiety. This morning I felt those old, gnawing, grumbly hunger pangs. I didn't have any POTS symptoms, but I was pretty sluggish. 

I also felt inexplicably depressed. I'm not sure if this is due to the food starch. I've been bolstering my mood with sweets and other carby things for most of my life. Now that I've cut it out, I am sure my brain chemistry has some catching up to do. Running around the park with Caveboy helped.

I don't think I can afford to be wasting food, so we finished off the wings for lunch today. I will be careful not to make this mistake again though. Fresh meat tastes better anyhow.


Well, I can't feel true hunger today. All I really feel is the urge to stuff all kinds of carbs down my throat. I'm glad for the accountability that blogging gives me because today it was a real challenge not to give up.

I didn't eat past lunch because I am afraid I will overeat. Trying to eat to hunger after getting carbed is like trying to sail on a cloudy night without a compass. Besides the chicken today, I had some cheese, mayo, and a tiny bit of cream. I am over my queasiness and I want beef tomorow. Today's total: about 1700 calories. 


I haven't had heartburn for a couple days now, so I think that part of induction might be over. Here's hoping the insomnia is next to go!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

ZC: Day 15 - Weighing In, Feeling Great

It turns out I lost an astonishing seven pounds this week. That makes a total of 11.8 pounds (5.4 kg) in the space of 14 days. I have never heard of such a quick drop in weight in someone who is not overweight or obese. (Not by silly, modern standards, anyhow. I bet I'd make a chubby cavewoman.) I'm living evidence of the "carbohydrates drive insulin drives fat accumulation" hypothesis. Without carbs, it's as if my body is saying, "Whoa! We're fat! Let's jettison this extra junk. Now!"

I suppose nausea prodded the weight loss along a bit, too, but I never did lose my lunch, so whatever calories I ate stayed with me.

My average daily caloric intake for this week: 1900

Last week: 2350

Since starting ZC: 2125

I'm bracing myself for the weight loss to slow down dramatically, but that's what I said last week and it didn't happen. Maybe I just shouldn't try to predict it.

On to today's report.


Super hungry today. I ate about 3/4 of a roast chicken all by myself again. Later on I had some chicken wings and tasted a dish that the Caveman made (beef and cheese). I'm still a little queasy at the thought of very greasy foods or fatty beef. Cheese and eggs also look gross. Fat has only been 50-60 percent of my diet for the past few days, whereas it was around 70-80 percent at first. I'm not doing this on purpose--just following what my stomach says. Total consumed: around 2450 calories

Cravings are strong but not compelling. Visions of sugarplums may be dancing through my head, but I am kicking them in the pants. No sweet thing is worth the price I'd have to pay for indulging. Not going to feed the bottomless pit.

All That Other Stuff

I felt awesome this morning! The Caveman commented that I looked like I felt better than I've felt for over a year. He was right. I can't even recall when I last felt this kind of vitality. 

I ended up overdoing it, of course. I got ambitious and took the kids out on several errands in a row, ran like crazy with them, etc. When I arrived home I was having a hard time breathing properly. By 4 pm I would have gone to bed if I could have. 

After I ate, I felt even more sleepy and fatigued, as well as a bit dull. Following my hunger cues, I want large meals and long periods between meals, but it seems like this is hard on my body in some way. I'm going to watch this trend and see what happens over the next week before I decide what to do about it.

But, again, I am incredibly encouraged by how I felt earlier today.

Monday, August 24, 2009

ZC: Day 14 - The Two Week Mark

The time flew by faster than I thought it would. I will weigh in tomorrow morning.

Today my mom came by. She was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes mellitus last year and thankfully she has managed to keep this under control without the aid of diabetes medication. She is not a low carber, but we have been talking about primal and low carb diets for months--though it might be more accurate to say that she has generously lent a kind ear to my excited babblings. I may be an extreme introvert but I'm afraid I cannot be made to shut up when I have a special interest and a willing listener.

I gave my mom my copy of Good Calories, Bad Calories last week and have been candid about what I am doing with my diet and why. She looked me over today and was concerned over the rapid rate at which I'm losing weight, wondering if it was really due to anorexia. I told her how many calories I eat and she said, "No way!"

She still looked worried and finally she asked what I'd do if I get dangerously skinny. I told her, "That would mean that zero carb isn't good for me and I should quit. I want to be healthy, not Posh Spice." To my surprise, this answer was satisfactory. "Good! That's all I wanted to hear." I love it when my mom is happy. ^_~

I was also relieved because the Caveman and my mother are the only people in my "real life" who know about zero carb. For a few minutes I was thinking I might lose one of my ZC confidants. Blabbermouths like me need at least a couple people to blabber at.

As a side note, I do try now not to mention zero carb to anybody who doesn't need to know I'm doing it. A mere two weeks in to this way of eating and I've already seen that a polite "no, thank you" to a slice of cake is enough to get the gears and cranks of the gossip machine a turnin'. I only hope they are calling me the weirdo that I am.

On to the report.


After that grand speech about how I'm eating a ton of food, it turned out this was my lowest calorie day yet. I didn't get hungry until about 4 pm. At that point I ate almost 900 calories of eggs, butter, and cheese. Then I got nauseated and couldn't eat for the rest of the day, although I managed to add a cup of bone broth in the late evening. Total: a little over 1000 calories.

I'm craving sweet, carby things, even in spite of the nausea. Stupid, magical carbs. They'll transform a regular stomach into a bag of holding. Or maybe a bag of devouring. There's always room for dessert, right?

That Other Stuff

I got what I wished for! This morning I felt awesome. Even while babywearing, I was able to do many chores and still feel great.

I felt poorly after eating (flu-like: sick, weak, sleepy, etc). No matter. I'm still very excited about how well things went this morning. I am hoping that I'm getting over the worst of induction now.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

ZC: Day 13 - broth and bleh

On second thought, I'll keep up with my data.


Somehow I always manage to be hungry even when sick, between the periods of nausea. I am grateful for zero carb eating. Today I was thinking about doughnuts and how I could probably pack away six or seven of them without blinking. Animal foods don't trigger that sort of unreasonable behavior.

I really still want fish and chicken, but we had to cook a big beef roast yesterday so that it would not go bad and I would not want to waste any part of it. It does taste good. Nothing the Caveman cooks ever tastes bad. Today I ate beef, tuna, bone broth, butter, cheese, and cream. Calories totalled about 1650. 

I made the broth myself. It turned out pretty nicely. I usually like some veggies in my bone broth (especially celery), but I just used a little garlic and other spices this time.

All the Rest

Heartburn. Bad. Really bad--especially at night. If I weren't a godless heathen, I would be praying that I don't vomit this stuff because if/when I do, it is going to be painful. The cream of tartar and baking soda concoction helps... for about 20 minutes. (I'm quite the skillful complainer, aren't I?)

Still feeling sick, obviously. Still can't decide whether this is induction or some stomach bug. (Or the death throes of all my veg loving intestinal flora?) POTS symptoms are much better today but it doesn't really matter because I haven't the energy to do much anyhow.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

ZC: Day 12 - A bunch of sickos

It seems everybody in the family is sick, carnivores and omnivores alike. We were on our way to a party today when Caveboy started barfing in the car. And then continued. And continued. Poor boy. Not only is he sick, but he had to miss out on the fun.

Since I basically feel like poo and there's no way of telling whether or not it is due to induction, I'll go light on the entries for the next couple days.

Today I ate turkey, chicken, chicken stock, and tuna with a tiny bit of bacon mayo, for a total of 1250 calories. I'm feeling revulsion at the thought of fatty meat. That might be because I overdid the fat yesterday.

POTS symptoms are bad. Plenty of tachycardia, venous pooling, randomly going numb in various parts of my body, ache all over, can barely fasten a button, and just want to sleep. No brain fog at least. 

That's all for now. I'll get back to the zero carb reports when I have something useful to contribute.

Friday, August 21, 2009

ZC: Day 11 - Meat Truck

Today I asked the Caveboy (who will be turning four in a few months) what he most wanted for his birthday. His reply? "I want an eighteen-wheeler with a refrigerated trailer so I can take meat everywhere!"

I took him to the store today and bought a half pound of shrimp, which excited him because the butcher wrapped it up in a neat, brown paper package. Somewhere along the line he became convinced that the little pink sea critters were called "spinach". Imagine, then, a beaming three year old on his way out of the supermarket singing "I'm going to eat SPINACH! Oh, YES! Can I have some spinach in the car? Can I hold the spinach all the way home?"

People probably thought we were nuts. That's okay, since we are indeed a little strange.


I ate to hunger today, for a total of 2700 calories. Foods included: canned albacore tuna, shrimp, chicken stock, bacon mayonnaise, butter, cheese, egg, and cream. I was really craving seafood today and would have gladly downed a bunch more of various kinds instead of the egg, cream, and cheese.

I also tried some coffee. Bad idea. More on that below.


Pathetic, in a word. I felt like I had the flu for at least half the day. It took monumental effort to move myself around, much less do anything productive. When the sick feelings weren't present, I felt okay.

Oh, and scratch what I said about the insomnia being gone. I am thinking this probably does have something to do with ZC now, since I've never had such a stretch of difficult nights before.

The coffee I drank hoping that it might wake me up and lift some of the flu-like feelings. Nuh-uh. I remember The Bear saying that coffee can provoke a significant insulin response. I am not sure if that was my problem, but it totally knocked me out (and gave me my first episode of brain fog in several days). No more coffee. Ever.

Cognitive Function

Fine, other than the brain fog and tiredness. That stuff kind of ruins my groove.


For the past couple days I've been getting some uncomfortable lower back pressure. From my reading, I gather that this is probably due to the adjustments happening in my digestive system.

The heartburn is bad, too. It makes me wonder if the shortness of breath issues I've had for the past few years might actually have been GERD or reflux. Caveman made me a great remedy with cream of tartar and baking soda today and it helped a lot. I've always been a "tough it out" sort of person, but at this point I'll try anything but carbs in order to feel better.

The flu feelings are getting super annoying but I'm determined to see this through. I keep reminding myself that no matter how bad I feel now, I really did feel worse on carbs. I reread some old threads on ZIOH today, too, and it was encouraging to know that many other people have been through these same feelings while healing from the effects of carbohydrates. I want to be one of those people on the other side of the valley.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

ZC: Day 10

As usual, here is today's zero carb report. I think these reports are going to get shorter and simpler.


Today I had sausage, cheese, steak, and cream, for a total of 2400 calories. I ate to hunger and not beyond. I ate a small amount at 11 am and my bigger meal around 6 pm.

Using the "would I feel like having some steak right now?" test is the only way I can tell I'm hungry. I haven't the slightest pang of hunger anymore. Yay for not being shackled to the fridge and cupboard!


I was able to be very active today. I am still getting flu like symptoms on and off, but when I wasn't feeling sick, I felt like running, playing, and working hard. That feels great.

I am still having difficulties carrying the baby (or anything else) and with lifting my arms up above my head. Upper body exertion makes my heart have to work a lot harder, it seems. That said, I must add that this is a small inconvenience compared with how I used to feel. I can't believe how much I was able to do today!

I am still extra sleepy, but the insomnia is lifting and I can actually get the sleep I need now. Thank goodness I have an easy baby who loves to sleep, too.

Cognitive Function

I have no complaints. If this keeps up, I'll stop reporting on this category entirely.


Episodes of vision loss were decreased again today--maybe three, total. Shortness of breath was present but also less frequent than the past couple days.

I am still having heartburn and/or nausea, on and off. I'm understanding why people call this stage induction flu. I'm wishing I had some chicken stock.

I am astounded by the difference I see in the mirror after just ten days. I just keep shrinking and I'm never feeling deprived. I just want to kick myself in the pants thinking of how many times in the past I have denied myself food when hungry and not lost any weight in spite of feeling like I was starving.

Making oven jerky of dubious antiscorbutic value

Isn't antiscorbutic an awesome word? It tickles me. Probably this whole post is just an excuse to write it repeatedly.

This week I made my first ever batch of jerky. As I mentioned in my tallow post, I was thinking of making Lex Rooker's jerky box, but this would entail some extra work and I was impatient to taste pemmican. I ended up making jerky in the oven.

If jerky is made at too high of a temperature, the meat loses its antiscorbutic properties. Among the zero carb community it is well known that Vilhjalmur Stefansson wrote of this in Not by Bread Alone (the enlarged edition is titled The Fat of the Land). Today I came across another reference to this fact in volume 22 of the journal Medical Record.

Any process which will destroy vitality itself, as boiling, burning, violent chemical action, etc., will, if used in the process of preserving food, do much to destroy its efficiency as an antiscorbutic...

Those juices obtained by simple expression, as lime, lemon, and orange juice, carefully bottled from the fresh fruits; of meats, those dried in the sun and preserved in their own tallow, as the pemmican of the prairie Indian, which bears no more relation to the pemmican prepared for Arctic voyagers by contract, than their scalping does to a shampoo--all of these are known to be better than fruits or vegetables prepared by boiling, or better than chemically prepared tartaric, malic, citric, acetic, or other vegetable acids derived therefrom, or meats that have been boiled and canned, or salted and smoked, although, so far as chemistry can determine, their essential ingredients remain unchanged.

That was published in 1882, one hundred years before I was born. It is strange how much nutritional knowledge was cast aside in recent decades. Many people today are of the impression that only fruits rich in vitamin C can prevent scurvy.

It's not terribly important that my jerky is technically raw, since I will not be subsisting on pemmican alone and am in no danger of scurvy. It's only a fancy of mine to make it this way. So I left it in the oven on the lowest setting, with the door propped open about three inches at the top (I used a pair of tongs to hold it open). This most likely kept the temperature low enough to keep the beef from cooking while drying out.

My first step was to slice an eye of round roast into thin strips, after trimming the fat. I used the food processor for making the slices. Next time I probably won't. I did get some nice, thin, long pieces, but I also got a bunch of tiny, crumbly pieces of meat. 

I used ZIOH member larrymagee's toothpick suggestion to hang my beef in the oven from the rack like so:

The crumbly bits were placed on a tray below the hanging strips of beef. Then I simply left it all in the oven for 16 hours, turning the bits on the tray after about four hours. (The bits were doomed. They clearly cooked.)

For pemmican making, jerky must be dried until it snaps in half when bent. By that time, it is very dark in color.

I've never had jerky so dry before, but it quickly grew on me. The Caveman and I both kept snacking on it. Later on, I prepared the jerky for pemmican by chopping it coarsely with a knife...

...then tossing it in the food processor (yes, I washed the FP--not for the sake of killing germs but for the sake of keeping my jerky scraps dry).

The food processor didn't deal with the jerky as well as I'd hoped. My cheap blender was much better for getting smaller pieces (and for not overheating).


There are the startings of my pemmican.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

ZC: Day 9

Our cast iron skillet arrived today from Amazon. Best eggs I've ever tasted--fried in bacon grease, of course.

I'm on a roll now!


It's getting hard to recognize when my body wants to eat. I don't get that gnawing feeling in my stomach at all anymore. Caveman reports feeling the same way already (he seems to be breezing through his induction--lucky turducken, isn't he?). I have read that what we commonly think of as hunger pangs are actually triggered by low blood sugar. I ended up not eating anything until 5 pm today because I just wasn't convinced I was hungry. In retrospect, I think I probably could have used some fuel before that point.

Based on what I've read of other people's experiences, I believe it will get easier to recognize these new hungry feelings with time. The "hunger test" often recommended at ZIOH goes something like this: Does a steak sound good right now? Yes? Then you're hungry.

I will keep this in mind going forward. I'm very curious about what it will be like to experience the sensation of true hunger.

I ended up eating about 2000 calories today. Today's foods included steak, eggs, cheese, butter, and pemmican. I'm beginning to prefer meat to dairy, something that I thought would take a long, long time to happen for me.

Cravings were totally under control. I was given a large plate of one of my favorite desserts by someone dear to me who is an excellent cook and who does not know about my new way of eating. I was able to give the dessert away again, relatively painlessly.


Ups and downs again. I spent part of the day feeling as if I had the flu. During those times all I wanted to do was curl up and sleep. Outside of those times, I was quite motivated. I did about two hours straight of weeding today.

Cognitive Function

Pretty good, when I wasn't feeling sick. Dare I hope this is a new trend? Yes, I dare.


While feeling ill, I had major tachycardia, trouble taking a deep breath, a roaring headache (I rarely get headaches), and I lost vision too many times to count. I really thought today would be a bust, but I felt a little better after some eggs and painkillers. After the steak, I felt great! Before eating I had heartburn, which is extremely unusual.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

ZC: Day 8

All right. I'm bringing stats today! I lost 4.8 pounds on my first week of zero carb, eating an average of 2350 calories per day.

I finished my homemade jerky this morning. Post forthcoming. The caveman has my photos and he conked out early tonight. Today was his first day of zero carb. (Hi babe. Can I just say you're very cute all sprawled out there next to your hacked netbook?)

On to today's report.


I wasn't very hungry at all today. I had about 200 calories at 9 am and didn't eat again until 5 pm. Total: 1400 calories. I feel very full. Foods included: beef jerky, fatty pork, cheese, butter, and cream.

Cravings are present, but my resolve is strong.

Thirst has normalized. I won't be reporting on that anymore unless something new happens. I can't smell the ketones at all anymore. Maybe keto-adaptation isn't too far away


Peaks and valleys. At times I felt raring to go. At other times, I could have easily fallen asleep if given the chance. Overall, I would rate this a hair higher than yesterday. I had a busy day and couldn't do everything I'd hoped to do, but I was managing to carry heavy things without trouble. I enjoyed being outdoors and moving around.

Cognitive Function

I'm still having to exert extra effort to concentrate on reading, but I don't feel terribly slow anymore. The come-and-go sleepiness is holding me back a bit.


Frequent shortness of breath and orthostatic tachycardia, along with eight episodes of presyncope. So far these POTS symptoms have worsened on ZC. They are very mild discomforts compared to the disabling brain fog I get on carbs, so it's a trade off I'd be willing to make. Still, I hope this isn't as good as it gets. We'll see.

Monday, August 17, 2009

ZC: Day 7

Wow--a full week!

Hunger and Thirst

Today's foods: cheese, cream, beef, pork, ham, egg, and butter. I ate to hunger, which was only 1700 calories today. I was not hungry at all 'til the afternoon. Cravings were mild in comparison with yesterday. 

Water was down to around 90 ounces. I didn't feel like I was drinking crazily anymore, just consuming what would be about right for a breastfeeding mother on a 90 degree day.


I was definitely less tired today. Not energetic by any means, but able to push myself to work hard. Carrying the baby around for long periods wasn't easy but it wasn't impossible either. Overall, I was able to be quite a bit more active than I was yesterday and sometimes I even enjoyed it.

I fell asleep again for a few minutes in the middle of the afternoon. Naps are unusual for me.

Cognitive Function

Outright brain fog seems to be a thing of the past. So far, ZC appears to protect against it.

However, I am still feeling sleepy and slow. Like yesterday, communication of all varieties takes a lot out of me. I'm alert enought to be excited about the things I want to write and research but it is still difficult to concentrate. Reading is easier than yesterday but I am not up to my normal speed.


Still had a couple episodes of vision loss today (presyncope). Heart rate leapt excessively on exertion. Shortness of breath present but even less frequent than yesterday.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

ZC: Day 6

Hunger and Thirst

My foods included pork, beef, eggs, cream, bacon grease, sausage, and cheese. I ate about 3300 calories today, 300 of which were consumed after I knew I was no longer hungry. Cravings were really intense and I kept overhearing mentions of carby foods I enjoy. I think this probably contributed to my overindulging in eggs and cheese at my last meal of the day. I was feeling sorry for myself and wanted to eat just for the taste of it.

On the bright side, it's interesting to experience this kind of fullness. It feels very different from the fullness I felt on paleo, even. It was very clear to me where the line was and I knew I was crossing it.

My water intake dropped to around 100 ounces. I'm still a lot more thirsty than anybody else I know, but quite a bit less so than I was yesterday. I don't have ketostix but I can't smell the ketones quite so strongly anymore. I'm no longer sweating excessively either.


Low, low, low. If I didn't have responsibilities, I'd have gladly slept half the day. I noticed an increased urge to move around after I overate, but before that I was loathe to do more than the bare minimum of my daily tasks.

Cognitive Function

I had a hard time concentrating on my reading. My eyes just keep skipping around on the page. I had a great, animated conversation about some of my favorite subjects today and felt sharp at that point, but it really took a lot out of me and I nearly fell asleep afterward.

This mental tiredness is a pain. There are projects I want to work on for which my brain simply isn't suited at the moment. Translating my thoughts into words is difficult. I'm not cranky and overwhelmed like when I have POTS brain fog, just slow and sleepy. A bit more absent-minded than usual. I'm like those stupid, lazy, low-carbing rats we all heard about this week.

I wonder how many days I'll feel like this before I acclimate? I have a family gathering this weekend and I hope I'm more alert and energtic by then so nobody feels worried about my crazy diet.


I was mildly tachycardic for several hours after my biggest meal, but that's to be expected. I lost vision three times: twice in the morning before eating and once in the afternoon while very full. Shortness of breath was present but it was not as bad as the last couple days.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

ZC: Day 5

All right! Five days of zero carb under my belt. 

Today was kind of a mixed bag. I finally had some cravings, but they weren't too bad. I didn't really want to eat the foods I was craving. I just sort of missed them.

My energy level was pretty low but I didn't have even a hint of vision loss or dizziness today. Best of all, there was no brain fog. I did have more shortness of breath than yesterday and it struck hardest whenever I was very thirsty. This seems to support my suspicion that excess insulin drives the POTS symptoms I experience. 

Following thirst and hunger, I drank about 150 ounces of water (that's a crazy lot--almost ten pounds of water!) and ate about 1900 calories. Today's meals included cream, eggs, cheese, beef, ham, and butter.

Reading Wednesday's post on Whole Health Source made me curious about the first book quoted. Happily, The Saccharine Disease by T. L. Cleave is available to read online

Friday, August 14, 2009

ZC: Day 4

Yay for my fourth day of zero carb eating!

My appetite was smaller than it was yesterday. I've calculated roughly 2300 calories so far. I will probably eat a little meat shortly, bringing today's total to about 2600. I did not want breakfast until after 10 am, then desired nothing further until 5:30 pm.

Today I've had brisket, beef fat, butter, one egg, cheese, heavy whipping cream, and turkey leg with skin. At dinner I sat down thinking I was going to eat a ton, but after a few bites of fat and a little meat I felt unexpectedly satisfied and didn't want more.

I am surprised by how little temptation I feel. Caveboy's orange juice looked appealing this morning, but that's about it. Caveman asked me to make him some sweet oopsie rolls after dinner, so I did. When I smelled them they did not seem like food to me, even though they turned out well.

Now for the POTS report. No brain fog all day long today! Even after a big breakfast, I was feeling good. One possible explanation is that my breakfast was mostly beef today rather than eggs. I also ate it slowly over the course of an hour. I'm making note of that so I can see if there are any trends later on. I also had no vision loss, although twice I felt that funny feeling in my head that occurs right beforehand. I did have shortness of breath. The SOB happened around the times I got hungry and seemed to abate  after eating (this is the opposite of what happens when I eat carbs). I was probably a bit tachycardic while standing but had no chest pains.

My energy level is higher than it was earlier in the week, in spite of being sleepy (I'm having mild insomnia and sleeping about 4-5 hours a night, but I don't think this is related to ZC). I'm still feeling a bit weak/tired when I carry the baby around, but not as tired as yesterday. Even when I wasn't up and moving, I felt the urge to fidget and tap my toes. My body really wanted to be active.

I've also been sweating like crazy even though the weather has cooled down. I've been very thirsty since starting ZC. Tomorrow I'll keep track of how much I'm drinking. I make bathroom trips like a pregnant lady and can smell the ketones I'm dropping.

I'm hoping that soon I will feel strong enough to wear my baby in a sling again as I do my chores. Right now I am able to wear him if I'm just walking or shopping, but bending or stooping while babywearing takes too much out of me.

Caveman is shopping for a cast iron pan now. He is going to make me my very first ribeye next week. Now that's a worthy craving. I'm trying not to drool, just thinking about it.

Oh! And I weighed myself today. I won't tell anybody what I've lost until it has been a full week, but I will say that I whooped when I saw the number. =)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

ZC: Day 3

I woke up in pretty bad shape this morning: weak, dizzy, and shaking. I had a hard time taking a shower without falling over. However, just a few bites of butter and beef and I felt worlds better. If I ever wake up feeling like that again, I will eat right away. I'd just figured I was hypoglycemic and assumed meat wouldn't help anyhow, so I didn't bother to eat for the first three hours I was awake. Apparently I needn't have suffered.

I have not had any vision loss all day, but I have had some chest pain and shortness of breath. That happened yesterday as well, though I think I forgot to record it. I don't find it concerning, just interesting enough to note. I find it curious that I am getting some symptoms that previously (to my recollection) tended to strike only when I'm uber carbed up (ETA: reading back posts, it seems I've reported this during IF as well).

I had only very, very mild brain fog after my two large meals today. It was almost more of a pleasantly full feeling. The words "pleasant" and "full" have not belonged in the same sentence for me since grade school, so this is a little exciting! Normally eating makes me feel stupid and cranky afterward. By my senior year in high school, I learned I had to fast before taking tests if I cared about doing well. If I ate I would get too foggy to perform.

Other than that, I felt decent in terms of thinking. The mild mental cloudiness that comes with interrupted/insufficient sleep feels very different from what I call brain fog. Today I was sleepy and therefore not in tip-top shape intellectually, but I never felt confused or unable to access important parts of my mind. (Brain fog truly is a frightful thing. I hate it.)

Another interesting observation: even though I feel pretty low energy, I am not at all cranky or impatient. When I'm feeling tired on carbs, I am a beast to live with. Today it was easy to be the person I want to be.

Thursdays are grocery shopping days for me. I had an easier time being around all that carby food than I thought I would. Much of it simply did not appeal. I had a brief inclination to pop a little piece of fruit in my mouth while I was preparing it for caveboy, but it wasn't hard to turn away from the notion. I have had a few "Gee, might I never eat that again?" thoughts, too. This morning while I was feeling poorly, I don't think I could have kept myself from wolfing down a bowl of cereal if one had been placed in front of me, but fortunately there are no such things in the house. Overall I'm pleased to report that what I most crave is beef!

According to FitDay, I've eaten an amazing 3000 calories today (that's rounded down, folks). I intend to have a 200-300 calorie snack soon, too. Today I got hungry for my meals about six hours apart: 9 am, 3 pm, and 9 pm. Breakfast was eggs, cheese, beef, and beef fat. Lunch was cheese, heavy whipping cream, and ground beef. Dinner/snack so far has been... uh... butter.

I'm curious to see whether or not I'll lose weight this week. My gut feeling is yes, in spite of the high calorie count. When I was eating a lot of vegetables and fruits on the typical primal way of eating, I was having to limit my daily caloric intake to about 1700 to see any weight loss. And that's with breastfeeding an infant! I'm going to be very impressed if I can eat 50% more calories on ZC and still lose.


Rendering Tallow, Part II

I'm still not quite clear on whether or not it is appropriate to say that I'm "rendering tallow." Since rendering is the process and tallow is the product, I have a little hunch it might be more accurate to say that I am rendering beef fat and thereby creating tallow.

"Rendering tallow" sounds cooler though. It might fit right in with other retro-chic crafts, like knitting soakers or transforming a vintage dress into a calico duster.

"Rendering fat", on the other hand, just makes me think of Tyler Durden in my kitchen with a bag of medical waste. I'm not sure I want to sample that variety of pemmican. ("Suet green is people!" Meh. At least it's not made of soy.)

Back to my tallow. Recap. Last time I was attempting to follow Lex Rooker's pemmican manual, but I don't have a candy (that word should be banned) thermometer and I ended up burning my tallow. Having never seen the stuff before in my life, I wasn't entirely certain at first that I'd burned it. But honestly, given the taste, I was sure hoping I had.

I briefly considered attempting a wet render, but I was concerned that something nutritious might be lost if the fat commingles with a bunch of water that will later be discarded.

So this is what I did instead:

1) First I trimmed the excess meaty bits from the fat and discarded the meat.  Suck it, American Heart Association.

2) I put the fat through the food processor with the cheese shred disc. Afterward it looked much like it had been through a meat grinder.

3) I got it bubbling like this. I melted it all on low and then turned the heat up to medium. As it bubbled, I could see water vapor escaping. That's good! I know I want as much water removed as possible so that my tallow will not spoil. 

4) When there were no longer many bubbles, I ran it through my strainer. I love my strainer. It has been used by four generations now, if you count caveboy rinsing his own berries. The cracklings were brown and actually tasted pretty good this time. Last time when I burned the tallow, they were awful.

5) I made a double filter with two coffee filters, one above and one below the strainer.

6) I ran the melted fat through the filters. This system would have worked wonderfully, had I not thwacked it clumsily with my hand. As it was, I caused it to slip and ended up with a few crackling crumbs in my tallow. I was too impatient to run it through the filters again, so I just accepted this batch will be imperfect.

7) I let the tallow cool on the counter, then placed it in the fridge overnight. My hope was that if there was any water remaining, it would sink to the bottom.

8) In the morning I cracked the tallow with a knife and dumped it out. There wasn't even the slightest film of water underneath. Success!

Sure, the first bite seemed a delicate melange of Crayola, candle wax and Irish Spring. (What can I say? I've tasted a lot of things in my time.) It's growing on me, though.

So. Now I can make tallow. Next stop? Maybe this.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

ZC: Day 2

I felt a bit yuckier on my second day of zero carb eating. There are several possible reasons for this. I had quite a bit of bacon at breakfast and bacon does appear to be associated with bouts of fuzzy-headedness for me. I got only about five hours of sleep last night. It's also simply the second day and I've been without significant carbohydrate intake for longer. Some level of induction sickness is going to happen, I suppose.

Overall today my energy has been quite low. I also lost vision around five times, which is unusual when I'm not carbing. Perhaps my POTS symptoms are linked to a hypoglycemic/hyperinsulinemic state. I intend to do a bit of research and reading along those lines and see what I find. If this is the case, I wonder if I should expect symptoms to continue until I ketoadapt.

After my evening meal of fatty brisket, I felt a little better. I have had no intense brain fog episodes today, but I don't feel as sharp as I like to feel. Sleepy and slow.

Hunger was also decreased today. I had a large breakfast and a small dinner, about nine hours apart. About five hours after dinner I started to feel hungry again, but I don't want to eat so close to bedtime. With FitDay I've estimated my intake at around 1600 calories.

Thus far the carb cravings have not been as bad as one might think. I've had brief thoughts of a few favorite foods, but I try to push the images out of my head in order to avoid an anticipatory insulin response. I have also tried to avoid photos or commercials involving carby foods (aka "food porn"). This approach has been more successful for me than dwelling on the food. It makes the cravings feel less intense. My two years as a Catholic were good practice for this. ^_~

(Lest my gentle readers take offense at that last bit, please know I do mean it in an affectionate tone and not any sort of disrespect. There is a great deal of wisdom, I believe, in recognizing the powerful effects of dwelling on particular thoughts and images. Those who believe that private thoughts are without consequence are kidding themselves.)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

First Day on ZC

My first day on zero carb has gone well. I'm following Owsley "The Bear" Stanley's plan at first. The Bear eats dairy and eggs in addition to meat.
I have eaten nothing but sirloin steaks for months on end, but I do like eggs cheese, many cuts of meat, even organs like liver tongue kidneys and brains (although the Inuit never eat any of them- and most likely neither did the true paleo hunters). Fish and chicken are nice too, in fact I have never 'met' an animal I would not eat.
Personally, I'll be going light on brains, tongues, and kidneys. Eggs and cheese should help me stretch my budget a little though.

I'm having to detox from the weekend, but it hasn't been difficult. Yesterday was not ZC but not terribly sugary either. Today I can feel that my blood sugar is running a tad low, but not so low as to give me the shakes, just a little weakness and a couple hours of mild nausea. I've had it much worse before. When I came off the SAD to do an elimination diet almost four months ago, hypoglycemia struck so hard I could barely move. My body totally shut down all unnecessary operations and made me sleep for a couple hours, shaking and sweating, until the worst of it wore off.

My appetite has been substantial. Using FitDay, I'd estimate I've eaten almost 1900 calories so far today and I am ravenous at the moment and will likely tuck in to a big bowl of eggs and cheese in a few minutes, for a grand total of 2400 calories. I've read on ZIOH that it's normal for those first starting out on ZC to have a lot of hunger at first, since our bodies were essentially starving before. Since I've been eating reasonably well (excluding weekend binges) for the past few months, I would guess that I won't suffer induction flu as strongly as I would if I had been coming directly from the SAD, but I don't know about hunger. I'm sure hungry right now. I'm planning on eating to hunger though, no matter how many calories that ends up being. It wouldn't be a fair test of the ZC hypothesis if I were to try to cut calories. Supposedly they don't count, after all!

I don't really have a weight loss goal. I'm just planning on eating to hunger and feeling awesome, hopefully getting lighter, smaller, and firmer in the process. Right now I am in the so-called normal range for my height (about eight pounds away from overweight), but I suspect that this range is heavier than our paleolithic ancestors would have been. I am 5'6". My best guess is that if I do not do much strength training or strenuous exercise, my weight will stabilize around 115 lbs, eating to hunger on an all-meat menu. If I do exercise a lot, I might stablize around 125.

Monday, August 10, 2009

weekend carb binge

Caveman and I took the inlaws on a tiny tour of a particularly delicious part of the city on Friday. We enjoyed our time and I hope they did as well. However, this episode of snacking on forbidden foods spurred a three-day feast of badness.

It doesn't really matter how I managed to justify it to myself. We in low-carb land all know that's just addict talk. However, some bit of good did come out of the binge: it reminded us why we don't want to do this.

I'll expound, in hopes of creating something I can read later on to dissuade myself from future so-called indulgence. (More accurately termed an "idiotic undermining of my more noble aspirations.")

So, here goes.

Within minutes of ingesting my first bit of bread, I was swimming in a sea of lights and sounds. My level of brain fog was moderate, but confusion was heavy. I was unable to expand my focus beyond the immediate task at hand. If someone were to shout, "Fire!" I would not have been aware.

After a few hours, my stomach started to hurt. The grumbles and groans began. These are the sorts of sensations and sounds most modern folk believe to be a part of normal digestion, but I'm no longer used to suffering these indignities. One doesn't need to do so. My limited experience with VLC tells me that digestion can be a gentle, efficient, soundless, painless process. That I would sacrifice good digestion for the sake of carbohydrate is a testimony to the addictive power of this macronutrient, I suppose.

By the end of the first day, I was depressed. I don't mean that I was disappointed in myself, rather, that my thoughts unavoidably turned to all things bleak and morose. My enjoyment in normal activities was diminished. Earworms and other repetitive strings of mental noise and clutter interfered with productive thinking. Socialization became more difficult.

By the end of the second day, my patience was wearing thin. I had to bite my tongue to keep from snapping at the caveboy. My tolerance for sound was lowered and I began to experience normal noises as physically painful. Stomach pains came and went. My muscles ached. I felt zits developing around my nose.

By the end of the third day, I was a mess. I cried, I yelled, I said awful and confusing things I didn't mean. I couldn't summon enough energy for the things I wanted to get done. I butchered simple sentences. For the first time in months, I had trouble taking a full, satisfying breath of air after meals (I am not sure of the exact reason behind this symptom, except that it relates to how my body processes carbs--especially carby foods with sugar--and is unrelated to the quantity consumed in one sitting). My heart pounded. While I felt physically full, I never felt satisfied. I went to bed feeling like barf personified.

Not a pretty picture. And, honestly, I was lucky. I've felt worse than this before.

Carb binging before you say goodbye to carbs is a bit like going to a strip club the night before your wedding. It's disrespectful to all involved, feels worse than you thought it would, and afterward--unless you're a complete dickweed--you wish you had never done it.

Yeah, hello.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Feats and Eats #8 plus Rendering Tallow, Part I

Breakfast: Just my fish oils. I needed to go shopping this morning, as we were out of eggs and fresh meat.

Lunch: Salami, ham, swiss, and havarti, with mayo. Nice and filling, but lunch meats do tend to give me a little trouble. I was crabby, emotional, and slightly foggy feeling for several hours after eating.

Dinner: Chicken drumsticks. Yum.

Caveman was having a hankering for something sweet, so for dessert I made oopsie rolls with cardamom and cloves, with chocolate whipped cream.

It was sweetened with a little sucralose and tasted quite good, but I found I wasn't overly interested. How out of character! I ended up giving half mine away to the older caveboy and munching on another drumstick and a large slice of cheddar instead. Furthermore, I found myself regretting the dry rub on the chicken, as I was wanting to taste the meat itself. I'm pleased with this development. I think this is the first day that I've been able to imagine what it might feel like not to desire sweets.

I also rendered suet and made beef tallow for the first time today. I attempted to follow Lex Rooker's directions without a thermometer. I suspect I burned it, but I've never before seen tallow in person, so it's hard to say. Here's my finished product:

I am going to try it again by a different method soon, to see if I can produce something that tastes more pure (as in, not like ash). I did a bit of googling and was left confused as to why some recipes recommend melting the fat on low for a short period of time, while other recipes say to boil it for an hour or more. My concern is that if I cook it on low, too much water will remain mixed in with the fat and the tallow will not keep well if made into pemmican. On the other hand, I boiled it on a lower setting and for a shorter time than Lex's instructions stated, and it still smelled burned even though it looked very much like the pictures.

My plan is to render my next batch of tallow on a very low temperature so I can see, taste, and smell tallow that is for certain unburned. Then I will leave it out and see if there are any indications it is too wet (such as a fuzzy growth of mold). If it proves to be too moist, I will give the other method another try, this time with a candy thermometer. I can get a pound of beef suet for under a dollar, so I figure it is best to experiment with making good tallow before I begin making jerky and pemmican. I'd be mortified if I wasted an eye of round by mixing it in with bad tallow.

Monday, August 3, 2009

A little history and my thoughts on zero-carb

Zero-carb is clearly where I'm headed. My body has been calling me in this direction for quite a while now, though it's taken years for me to piece together all the clues. Eating a fruit or vegetable has become a game of Russian roulette, in terms of whether or not it will provoke symptoms in me and, if so, how severe those symptoms will be.

This is an inconvenient conclusion at which to arrive, for me. I have always had a soft heart toward animals and this tendency has become even stronger since becoming a mother. I don't like to think of anything dying, much less being killed for the purpose of being put in my mouth and belly. The notion that normal, sane people in my life go out hunting on the weekend is difficult for me to reconcile each time I think on it. I try to put myself in their shoes and find myself feeling very squeamish. I have to look away when Bear Grylls finds a bite to eat.

Two years ago when my obsession was autism, I read with morbid fascination about Temple Grandin's insight into the minds of cattle and how she used her gift in order to make the animals' last moments more dignified and less frightening. Grandin has my respect, so when I read her words in Thinking in Pictures on why she believes it is acceptable to slaughter animals for meat, I wanted to be inspired and find my horror lifted from me. That didn't quite happen, but I suppose a seed of resignation was planted, at least.

At any rate, it would be more comfortable for me to assume a vegan lifestyle. It's trendy, it's (at least on the surface) more "green" and humane, and no cuddly creatures had to suffer or die to make those foods. But I'm just not that selfless. I want to eat the foods that my species evolved eating. I want to feel good and live a long life free from fainting spells and uncomfortable cardiac arrythmias. I want to use my brain to its full capacity, not sit around fumbling for words, be unable to remember yesterday's events, or have trouble performing simple equations. I want to take my sons to the park without a second thought, not stay home in fear of another fainting spell or sudden bout of exhaustion.

Eating paleo/primal is something I've been doing on and off for about two years, alternating with periods of SAD and plain low-carb or South Beach. I began around the time celiac disease was prominently featured in the news. My firstborn had also suffered a profound developmental delay resembling autism. This was shortly after he was weaned. (Incidentally, this was also directly after receiving his MMR... but that's outside the scope of this blog. Suffice it to say I am neither in the "vaccines cause autism" camp nor in the "vaccines ROXXORS!!!1 get them or die a scary death of measles" camp.) I noticed that removing dairy and gluten from my son's diet caused his behavior to change dramatically for the better. I tried it myself and found that I felt better, too. With the aid of the new diet and occupational therapy, my son regained his lost skills and after six months he was functioning at an accelerated level rather than developmentally delayed.

However, carbs are addictive and I went back to my old way of eating more often than not. By the end of 2007 my health issues had worsened to the point that I was doing (let's be blunt) a real half-assed job at work. I had no strength, I constantly felt ill, I wondered if I was just lazy or depressed, but no matter what I did it seemed I could not regain enough vitality to be the kind of worker I once was. When I returned to college the following year, I could barely walk from one building to another. By the end of 2008, I had to drop out of an important course because my mind was too blurry to concentrate on the materials. I lost my vision and became faint dozens of times a day. My lungs seemed to tighten up on the least bit of exertion. I sometimes felt convinced I was dying of something but no doctor I saw could figure out anything wrong with me.

Bit by bit, with a lot of research and reading, I began to piece it together myself. When I ate rice, my heart raced and my breathing became labored. I felt fine while fasting, worse after eating. Wheat was no good. Candy was no good. All grains were bad.

My partner and I began eating primal toward the end of April. I saw instant, huge improvements in my health, but it wasn't (and still isn't) as good as I'd hoped. Clearing my body of processed foods heightened my awareness of what gives me trouble though. I had a hard time admitting that fruit and all sweeteners are on the black list, but they are. I haven't yet given them all up entirely, but I know when I eat them I am likely to feel poorly.

What makes me feel great? Meat. Meat, meat, unlimited meat. Chicken, beef, pork, animal fats, butter. Bacon, sausage, and cheese, too, so long as the quantity is not ridiculous.

I've read Good Calories, Bad Calories, the Bear's (NOT Grylls) infamous thread on 47 years of being a total carnivore, Banting's On Corpulence, I'm beginning Not By Bread Alone. I know that our closest known relatives on the hominid family tree the Neanderthals were essentially carnivorous. I know that the available evidence strongly suggests that paleolithic humans obtained most of their protein from animal sources. Most importantly, I have empirical evidence: the response of my own body to what I ingest. VLC is imminent for me and zero-carb is not that far off.

Sorry, fuzzy creatures. You are food.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Feats & Eats #7

Exercise: I completed the last workout and earned my 30-day challenge trophy on EA Sports Active. I was a bit tired after yesterday's carbage, but not as bad off as I'd feared.

I'll give a mini-review, since I've been using the game for over a month now. I believe the challenge was a good thing for me. The best thing I got out of this game so far is increased endurance. Exercises that were hard in the beginning are easy now and I can run a longer distance than before (which is a big deal to me, since just a few months ago I had debilitating shortness of breath on exertion). I've also become reacquainted with proper form for old exercises and learned a few new ones.

My legs have firmed up a bit since starting the challenge and maybe my arms as well. Based on what I'm reading in primal and low carb circles, I am going to need to lift heavy weights to see much of a difference in terms of muscle definition. I'd love to incorporate free weights into these workouts, though I am not sure I can manage to lift sufficiently heavy weights while managing the Wii remote and nunchuk. I will probably begin the intermediate 30-day challenge next week and I have notions of using what the game has taught me in order to branch off and do my own resistance training.

Breakfast: I told the caveman that I'm calling this dish "Which Came First?" I broiled up a batch of Green Chicken (as well as Red Chicken, my own twist with curry and paprika) and then used the drippings to fry up some eggs. Eggs fried in chicken fat? Amazing! 

Dinner: Mashed carrot with tons of butter, sliced cucumber, and my own rendition of the infamous school cafeteria "Steak Fingers". They're made of hamburger meat, garlic and onion, formed into 3-4 inch long fingers, and covered with almond flour and spices. They were reasonably good but, like most fakers, didn't live up to what I'd had in mind. I sort of wished they were just plain meat patties without any nut breading.

Oh, and that's a glob of homemade olive oil mayo at the top. The recipe warned that it would have a strong flavor, and it was right. I would not make it again with olive oil, though I will likely someday experiment with coconut and/or macadamia nut oils.

This meal was an effort to use up some of the veg-type carbs hanging around the house. We had a Costco bag of organic carrots that were drying out. I enjoyed the meal but wasn't surprised to feel famished again a mere two hours later. At that point I ate some leftover chicken from this morning, along with some cheese. Still hungry.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

I tripped and fell on a cupcake and it somehow got in my belly.

Birthday parties can be like that. 

I can't say I regret the cupcake. Er, uh.... cupcakes. They were some of the best I've ever had. They weren't an accident, either. I planned on splurging a bit today. My breakfast was totally on track and I filled up on meat for lunch. The cupcakes didn't give me any symptoms at all and I spent the next few hours playing at the beach with the kids.

What I hadn't planned on was the ice cream and bananas that followed the cupcakes into my belly. That was a bad choice. I did end up having some brain fog, vision loss, and exhaustion at that point. I strongly suspect that my POTS symptoms correlate with rising insulin levels. This indulgence sparked some intense sugar cravings, but my lovely man helped keep me strong. Sometimes I look to him to enable me, I suppose. Like many couples, we can be a bit codependent when it comes to sweets. One feels less of a pathetic addict when one binges with company, after all. The man and I agreed today that it would be a bad decision even to keep maple syrup in the house for guests because neither of us could be trusted with the bottle.

I still really want sweets, but that doesn't have much to do with today's birthday treats. I think about candy just about every single night and, in spite of what I know about sweet things and insulin, the temptation is strong. Keep in mind that I have more reason to stay away from candy than most people--not only do I know it's killing me and threatening to make me fat, I also feel pretty much drugged (and most unpleasantly) when I overindulge. 

And it's almost always overindulgence, with me. If other people are around who aren't "cool" ;-), I feel social pressure to be polite and non-gluttonous and I will bend to that. If I am left to my own devices, however, I will not stop until I am quite ill. You might be surprised at how much I could pack away in one sitting. Or you might not be surprised. I tend to think that secret candy binges of ungodly proportions are far more common than people like to admit. I'm not even overweight. You'd never know if I didn't tell you.

Back when I had a particularly soul-sucking job, I would often use my lunch break to eat candy. Lots of candy. Or white bread rolls. Those are essentially the same thing. An hour a day spent chain-smoking probably would have been less damaging to my health.

So, yes, I believe sugar is more addictive than cocaine. I've read that people who abstain for years can finally rid themselves of that siren's song. Perhaps someday that will happen for me. Until then, eating clean is a challenge. Living in the modern world, we're always just a few steps away from the edge of the sugar pit.

And it smells good in there.