December 30, 2011

It's Time, and I'm Ready! Part #3

Happy New Year! I'm posting this on New Year's Eve so here's hoping you've had a great holiday season and you're excited about what you can do to make your life rich and enjoyable in 2012.

This will be the final update to this post because the "transition" back to ancestral eating turned out to be a ho-hum event with no difficulties whatsoever. Wednesday morning I will measure my waist and hips, begin my 2012 walking program and take my picture for use in a month or so to evaluate my progress. 

I lived in Wisconsin for many years and on Tuesday the Badgers are in the Rose Bowl. My menu will be ancestral but I plan to park myself in my recliner, celebrate, and watch lots of football. Food-wise, no major adjustments will be needed for weight loss but I do plan to moderate some of my daily portions starting Wednesday:

  • Full-fat yogurt will drop from 2/3 cup to 1/2 c daily
  • Total fruit will be reduced from 2-3 cups daily to 1 c or less
  • Coffee will be reduced from 2 mugs to 1 (only because I'm not willing to reduce the cream/honey I add per mug. I'd rather have 1 yummy mug than 2 yucky ones) 
All together, the changes should make the difference between maintenance and slow-but-steady weight loss. Portions of meat and vegetables will stay the same (basically, as much as I want) but that will be subject to change if I don't lose weight in January.

If you have established a goal to lose weight after the holidays I strongly encourage you to measure your waist and your hips and make sure you can find the note in a month. You could measure other places, of course, but if your waist and/or hips are losing inches you can bet the rest of you is doing the same. Also, you can calculate your waist-to-hips-ratio.

Plan to re-measure about once per month. If you do it more often than monthly, you have an anxiety issue so just chill.  :-))  Okay, okay, if you HAVE to you can measure more often but don't expect dramatic changes every week. It's also a good idea to take your picture so you can compare monthly photos and monitor your progress. If you find yourself struggling to get your weight loss started, check back here. I plan to offer a few suggestions in my next post.

In my case, I admit I expected the end of holiday splurging to be a much different experience, based on my history of binge eating and sugar addiction, but I suffered no cravings for sugar and I'm happy as a clam to be back eating grain-free, sugar-free, additive-free whole foods. During the holiday season I have been very lazy so an important goal for me will be walking every other day until I can go at least 2 miles. When I can do that, I'll start using 3-day cycles in which I walk twice and rest once.

Today was very spur-of-the-moment and totally off plan. Oops! The shrimp are still in the freezer and will probably be my New Year's Day meal. I had my usual coffee and yogurt/fruit in the morning but I was on the go after mid-day and wound up grabbing things like a chunk of fried pork rind (2" by 5-6") a grapefruit, a 7.5 oz can of wild salmon which I ate as is--just stirred the juice back into the meat and sprinkled on a little salt, and my usual bottle of water kefir. 

New Year's Eve Dinner :-))
It was early evening by the time I sat down and enjoyed a leafy salad, and by then I didn't feel like eating anything else. It was fun to just do what felt right. Overall, what I ate was probably better suited to my state of mind that if I had forced myself to fix a fancy dinner.

Part II - late on 12/30/11

Happy New Year's Eve! (posted late on the 30th) My first day went well! For breakfast, I chopped a fermented fig and a ripe persimmon and mixed them in 1/2 c full-fat yogurt. 

 I fixed my salad at about 1 pm and sat in my recliner munching slowly in the way I used to enjoy a bag of chips. I ate my beef stew at about 2 pm; since it was a same-day stew the bones weren't quite completely clean so I dished some bones into the bowl and had a great time gnawing off the last of the cartilage and sucking out the last clinging bits of marrow. I also went back for seconds, so the bones in the second photo represent both helpings. On slow-cooked stews that have cooked longer, been chilled and then re-heated, the bones are clean and I just toss them. 

Bone Broth Stew
Nothing Left But Bones
I don't know whether to be happy or disappointed, but I had no cravings today. I mean, where's the heroic sacrifice? I had a plan ready and my willpower was poised to execute but nothing happened. It was anti-climactic, really. Okay, I'm kidding. It was a relief to have this first day go so well and it gives me confidence going into tomorrow.

I expect stronger cravings on New Years Eve. At the very least I want to be mentally prepared in case they strike hard. I'm going to do some laundry at mid-day to keep me away from the fridge for a while and then I'll eat my main meal later in the day so there's less time to think about food afterward. 

My planned menu is suitably festive: fried pork rind (I buy a brand that comes in large chunks rather than machine-cut pieces,) salad, shrimp and eggs sauteed in butter and--wait for it--broccoli cooked in bone broth. In honor of the holiday, I'll finish with one square of 90% chocolate. You may not have noticed, but you can now buy chocolate bars at your regular supermarket that are nearly pure chocolate. I find that greater than 90% doesn't taste good enough to be a treat but 90% or even 85% tastes great without causing binge cravings.

My New Year's Eve will be quiet. The grandkid is spending the night at a friend's place and I will watch the Eastern time zone's celebration with a fizzy water kefir.

Part 1:  Originally posted on the morning of 12/30/2011

I'm calling an early end to my holiday "open eating" season. The plan was to stop splurging on Jan 3rd, but for a number of reasons today is the day. Don't worry, I will have home-made eggnog and other ancestral goodies this weekend but I won't eat any more processed/commercial treats.

One reason for the accelerated schedule is that it isn't fun any more. I mean, in the past few days I'd look back at what I ate each day and the food that tasted the best was never one of the splurges--it was the yogurt and fruit, or the brussels sprouts cooked in bone broth, or the bacon bites. So why bother?

Two other reasons for stopping are more ominous: It was becoming important to have a neolithic treat every day AND I was starting to feel physical signs of an unhappy GI tract--tingling down my arms, uneasy stomach and bloated gut. It really makes you wonder why I would start to feel strong urges to eat more of food that didn't even agree with me, doesn't it?

So, if you're also trying to shift what you eat--a little or a lot--I invite you to join me as I head back to the health and well-being of ancestral eating.  If you just want to keep me company as I jot down my results for the next few days that would be great too. I will post daily updates at the top of this post for the next week or so until I feel confident I am safely through New Years weekend and back onto my ancestral routine.

This morning is easy--two mugs of coffee. I always put a little heavy cream and a tsp of honey in mine and I happen to think it eases any urge to eat first thing. Others drink it black. You do what you want, but I do best with a light "breakfast" at mid-day and my main meal in the afternoon.

My breakfast will be about half a cup of home-made yogurt with a fermented fig (from my water kefir brew) and a banana. Doesn't sound like a diet, does it? It isn't; it's a lifestyle and you don't punish yourself, you just ease your way to better shape. Some in the ancestral community avoid dairy but I do use cream, butter and yogurt although in moderate amounts.

I don't plan to eat a snack today but if I feel I need one I'll eat a can of sardines. With or without the sardines I will drink a bottle or two of home-made water kefir.

My main meal will be a salad and a large bowl of bone broth stew. I started the stew this morning but first let's talk about the salad. I like rich-colored leaf lettuce. It tastes good and has lots of volume to make me feel like I've eaten a lot of food. I add a green onion and some celery (think crunch) and some cucumber. Oil and vinegar with a little salt and pepper and it's great to sit and crunch the salad. I sit in my recliner and I take my time to slowly munch my way through the bowl. It should be a relaxing interval rather than an intense workout for the jaw.

Okay, about the stew. At a local market, I found 2 small packages of inexpensive meat/bones--a hunk of marrow bone sliced into several thin slices and a cross-cut piece of shank. I also found a small package of 3 cross-sections of beef tail. All together, the meat/bone items cost about $7 and the meat/broth will be good for at least 3 meals. Since I always have bone broth on hand, I didn't put water on the meat after I seared it in fat from the previous stew--I added rich broth and vegetables from the previous batch. I brought it all to a boil and it will simmer gently all day until I'm ready to eat it.

Bone Broth Stew
Note: I added a lot of broth to the bowl after taking the photo; I just wanted the solids to show up well.  I won't add vegetables today as there are brussels sprouts and carrots I added a day or two ago, but whenever the stew runs out of meat or vegetables I just add what I want. I frequently add a dose of cod liver oil to the broth just before eating (not into the main stew.) I will eat as much as I want, there's no need to walk away hungry. The salad will take care of portion control anyhow. 

If you're not comfortable without breakfast, have the meat of your choice plus eggs. If you want a meal in the evening, have the meat of your choice and 1 or 2 vegetables. Something like asparagus and maybe 1/3 of a sweet potato or half of a white one with butter.

Talk to you tomorrow!


  1. Sounds like a good plan. :)
    And enjoy your oxtail soup!


  2. It's great that you figured out that processed food was making your body feel worse. As you say, what's the point?

    Have you read The End of Overeating? It really brought home to me that much processed food is created to hit our reward center and make us want it despite the fact that it makes our bodies feel worse. That made it easier to resist. Stoopid cheating food, not playing fair!

  3. @ Anonymous, the stew was delicious! I ate with gusto.

    @Steph, I haven't yet read The End of Overeating but I probably should as I've experienced both sides of the issue--succumbing and recovering.