Paleo Eats, Week 1

Week one of paleo eating is over. So far, it’s going really well and I’m enjoying this change. This weekend was a bit challenging but we followed Paleo as much as possible but allowed wiggle room. We had wings with our friends on Saturday night and drank wine/beer at a birthday party Friday night. Overall, I feel really great, physically. Hunger feels different (as in, no angry, ravenously starving Lynne), I feel like I have more energy and am not dragging in the afternoon and my clothes fit really well. So far, so good.

When I first looked into Paleo foods, I couldn’t really gauge how ‘everyday’ people would eat. Much of the paleo info I’d found was from book authors, cookbooks or blogs where I couldn’t tell what the author’s current lifestyle entailed. I wanted to share what my 4 weeks of ‘strict’ Paleo included for other office working, active people who may be curious about Paleo.

Here’s what I ate this week:

MONDAY

Breakfast: Smoothie (Raspberries, blueberries, all natural peanut butter, honey, ice)

Snack:  Handful of walnuts

Lunch: Large spinach salad with tomatoes, carrots, grilled chicken + balsamic vinegar

Snack: Apple with natural peanut butter

Dinner: Turkey burger + buffalo sauce, brussel sprouts, roasted sweet potato

TUESDAY

Breakfast: Smoothie (raspberries, blueberries, spinach, peanut butter, flaxseed, ice)

Snack: 2 handfuls of walnuts

Lunch: 1 chicken breast, boiled + cherry tomatoes

Snack: 1 apple + handful of walnuts

Dinner: Chipotle Lime Chicken from Applebees (no rice)

WEDNESDAY

Breakfast: Smoothie (fruit, peanut butter, flaxseed, ice), 2 eggs scrambled

Lunch: Salad (lettuce, tomato, carrots, packet of tuna)

Snack: Apple + walnuts

Dinner: Crockpot Beef Stew (modified this recipe: used 1 sweet potato instead; no flour)

THURSDAY

Breakfast: Smoothie, 2 eggs scrambled

Lunch: Salad (lettuce, tomato, radishes, packet of tuna, balsamic vinegar)

Snack: Walnuts + Almonds

Dinner: Pork loin, roasted Brussels Sprouts + onions

FRIDAY

 Breakfast: Smoothie, 2 eggs scrambled (surprisingly, still not tired of this for breakfast)

Snack: Beef jerky

Lunch: Chipotle salad (lettuce, steak, fajita veggies, pico de gallo salsa, hot salsa)

Snack: Apple + Walnuts

Dinner: HBurger (no bun burger, fresh jalapenos, lettuce, tomato, grilled mushrooms), grilled asparagus, wings

SATURDAY

Breakfast: Smoothie

Lunch: Garbanzo salad (lettuce, chicken, vegetable salad) + Chicken Tagine soup

Dinner: Wings, veggies + hummus + salsa, Udi’s bread + guacamole

SUNDAY

Breakfast: Smoothie (still not bored…), 2 egg omlette with green + red peppers + homemade salsa

Snacks: Apple + pb, tuna packet, beef jerky, left over pork loin

Dinner: Salmon + lemon pepper seasoning, veggie medley (spinach, garlic, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms)

A bit redundant with breakfast and snacks but it worked this week. I think if I keep eating smoothies and eggs for breakfast, I’m going to get really burnt out really quick so this will I’ll be looking into ways to spice breakfast up.

Because this is a new style of eating for me, it’s a bit challenging to figure out what to eat for all of our meals without eating the same things. Dinner has been the easiest to keep fresh because we have more time in the evenings to think about what to eat and cook. A little more planning for the rest of the day will go a long way for me.

This week, I hope I’m adding variety to my food!

Denver Eats! Dining Out Paleo: Chipotle, HBurger, Garbanzo

This is a very special first edition of Denver Eats! Dining Out Paleo.

When I first moved to Denver, I had no idea where to go for a good meal and stuck to the chain restaurants that I knew and loved. I soon figured out that Denver has a wealth of local food that far exceeds any chain restaurant! As I try new restaurants across the vibrant and diverse city of Denver, I write about it for the internets to see.

This is a Special Edition because currently, I’m eating a mostly paleo diet as a 1 month challenge so I’m trying to find a tasty meal that fits into the paleo ‘rules’.

This weekend brought more eating out than normal for me. I ate lunch out on Friday & Saturday afternoons and Friday night.

First up, Chipotle for lunch on Friday.

For those who don’t know, Chipotle is a Denver-based ‘gourmet fast food’ type of restaurant. Chipotle prides itself on it’s commitment to sustainable, healthy and fresh ingredients. Now, it’s easy to go overboard at Chipotle and turn your healthy ingredients into an unhealthy meal (looking at you, sour cream). Eating paleo, however, helps to eliminate the calorie heavy items like the tortilla, taco shells and cheese.

For lunch, I ate a steak salad with fajita veggies, pico de gallo and hot salsa with some guacamole on the side and drank unsweetened tea.

That night, Alex and I ate at a relatively new burger place – and new to us – called Little HBurger. Per the HBurger website:

HBurgerCO, an innovative concept spun from an American classic—a restaurant that celebrates homegrown familiarity without sacrificing a style all its own.

From apps to nightcaps, you’ll find only the highest quality ingredients, like locally sourced Angus beef, ground fresh daily. And of course, there’s plenty to suit the tastes of any palate even if meat isn’t on the agenda: this Garden Burger was no afterthought! And from the create-your-salad menu, the healthy options are limitless.

I liked this restaurant before we even arrived.

HBurger was an interesting test for us – it was the first burger restaurant we’d eaten at this week. We (and Alex especially) love our burgers and fries. As we read through the menu, so many specialty burgers were mouth-watering but all had cheese, which we’ve opted to not eat right now.

We decided to build our own burgers with Bibb lettuce instead of buns. I had fresh jalapenos, guacamole and grilled onions on mine.

We split a side of grilled asparagus and Kickin’ Asian Wings. While wings aren’t necessarily paleo (okay, aren’t at all), we had a birthday celebration to attend after dinner and needed more food in our bellies before drinking any alcohol.

The wings were phenomenal! I usually don’t care for traditional wings because they’re too messy and too much work but I will come back and eat these wings many times over. The sauce was slightly sweet with a kick of heat at the end, each wing was really meaty and fell right off the bone.

Friday night we went downtown to celebrate a friend’s birthday and yes, we drank some alcohol. Yes, it’s not paleo and I’d said I was only going to drink water and tea but I decided to indulge with my friends and I don’t regret it one bit. Instead of a beer, I opted to drink red wine. For me, drinking wine is sipping and savoring where as a beer is much bigger and faster drinks. I’m not which is technically *healthier* or more paleo but my very basic guess is wine is the healthier choice. Anyone know?

**side note: by not eating carbs, I felt the effects of wine a lot quicker than I used to.

On Saturday, while out and about running errands, we had lunch at Garbanzo. Garbanzo is another Denver-based restaurant chain with fresh, fast mediterranean. Very similar to Chipotle – I’ve heard a rumor that former Chipotle employees actually started Garbanzo? I can’t confirm that though. Per the comments, my friend Morgan set me straight! Garbanzo’s founder came from Panara instead. Read more about him here.

I enjoyed the Garbanzo Greens Salad with chicken and vegetable salad with greek vinagrette and hot sauce on the side and a cup of the Chicken Tagine soup (chicken, sweet potatoes, onions).

I was really surprised by how much I liked the soup! Sweet potatoes aren’t my favorite vegetable but it was the only soup that looked Paleo appropriate. The sweet potato taste is very slight in this soup and the soup is really hearty and filling.

The general principles of paleo eating are really helpful when eating out – it’s a good check to see if you’re eating the most nutritious foods available. At the same time, it’s important to indulge from time to time with wings if you need some more food. I don’t regret those wings or wine I had one bit knowing that the other 99% of the week, I ate as ‘cleanly’ as I could.

Weight & Paleo; Weight Loss is 80% Diet, 20% Exercise

If you’re sensitve about weight and diets, please read at your own discretion. I’ve opted to share my actual weight numbers in this post as it’s easier to track the changes. And I don’t really care if y’all know how much I weight.

Last year, I started tracking my weight and body fat to observe how my body would change throughout my surgeries. (You can read previous posts here and here.) I don’t write these posts to scrutinize my body but to be cognizant of the changes from muscle atrophy and limited physical activity.

Now, I am 2.5 weeks past my second surgery and 5 days into Paleo eating. This post will focus on weight changes only as I haven’t tested my body fat and BMI again yet. Some very interesting things have happened.

A short overview of weight fluctuations recently: 

  • Since mid-college, my weight has hovered around 160-165.
  • The night before surgery in October, I weighed 165. On my 5’11″ frame, 5 pounds doesn’t necessarily LOOK like much but I can feel it, my clothes can feel it.
  • In between surgeries (in my last weight post), I weighed 167 and felt really unhappy with myself for lack of self control. I’d gone overboard with the hamburgers and beer, enjoying too many dinners out and not getting active.
  • On the morning of surgery 2, I stepped on my scale at home and it read 165 – back to pre-surgery weight.
  • On Monday when I started following a Paleo diet, I weighed 162. I attribute this all to muscle loss in my left leg. Besides hand weights, some ab work and crutching, my physical activity is limited.
  • This morning, I stepped on the scale and it read 156. 

This week, Alex and I have each been checking our weight each morning to observe the changes of our Paleo diet. We’ve both noticed a drop in our weights but couldn’t figure out where it was coming from – you don’t LOSE 6 pounds in a few days; It’s not fat that’s coming off. So what is it?

I did some research and came across a website called Paleo Plan that offered a great explanation for what is going on with my body:

2. Water Retention

There’s a funny thing that happens when we eat carbohydrates: our cells hold onto the water that comes along with the carbs.  It’s an evolutionary detail that helps people do sustained physical work without needing as much water.  As you use up your glucose stores (your glycogen), water is released into your body.  That was great for the active hunter gatherer type, but now that we are pretty sedentary as a culture, eating way more carbohydrates in the form of grains, legumes and extra sugar, we’re carrying around a lot of extra weight in the form of water.  Have you ever watched the show “Biggest Loser”?  All of the contestants always lose extraordinary amounts of weight in the first week: 10, 20, even 40 pounds in just seven days.  Most of it is water that they’ve been hording in their cells.

When they first go Paleo, a lot of people, including myself, experience increased thirst and more trips to the bathroom to let out some of that excess water.  Along with extra weight disappearing during this process, the edema you might have in your legs or feet, your puffy eyes or your swollen hands might start to dissipate, too. (source)

Water retention! Yes! This explains it perfectly. I can physically notice a difference in my stomach area – it’s less ‘squishy’ than it was  before, but like I said, it wasn’t a loss of fat. It was loss of bloating. Gross.

The notes about thirst and bathroom trips exactly align with what I’ve been experiencing too. Although I’ve been drinking 96 ounces of water  a day, I’ve still been feeling really thirsty, especially at night.

This goes to proves the old adage that weight loss is 80% diet and 20% exercise. I have made absolutely ZERO changes to my activity level and have lost 6 pounds. And to be clear, I’m not starving myself at all – I’m eating plenty of food, just different and more nutritious foods. I’m also guzzling water like it’s my job.

It’ll be interesting to see what the next month of paleo eating brings and to recheck my body fat and BMI changes. I wonder how water weight affects these number?

Paleo Dining Out: Applebees

This morning, Denver looks like this from my apartment:

And my one of my crutches look like this:

The tip of my crutches wore out yesterday. I guess after 8 weeks of use, it’s no surprise that the rubber broke (that’s what she said?)

So I’m working from the couch today. Best part about work-from-home days besides the pajamas is the ability to do an at-home, in-living-room workout during my lunch hour. I can come back to work without showering and no one knows!

I like to think of this whole Paleo eating deal as a reality show, sometimes, with trivia questions (is chewing gum paleo?), prizes for doing a good job (popcorn!), challenges, and that one crazy defiant contestant who ‘don’t care what ANY of y’all think.’ Yep, that’s me. Is buffalo sauce Paleo? Screw it, I’m eating it anyway.

Last night, I encountered my first challenge. I had a meeting at 7 p.m. – not enough time to eat dinner between work and meeting so I brought a snack (almonds & walnuts). When the meeting got out at 8:30 p.m., my stomach was growling for something real to eat. Due to the lack of food (see here), Alex suggested we challenge ourselves with dining out.

Bring it.

Course: Applebee’s Bar and Grill

Objective: Dine out while still maintaining Paleo standards

Surprisingly, we managed to do pretty well! The hardest part was getting past the delicious smelling french fries and enticing happy hour prices.

Alex and I were both really hungry and wanted to start with an appetizer – unfortunately, no Paleo options on the menu. We settled on a salad.

Oops. Forgot to ask for no crutons or cheese. Picked both off as much as possible and ate with the balsamic dressing (white dressing is oriental balsamic).

For entrees, Alex ordered the Sizzling Cajun Chicken & Shrimp entree.

I had the Chipotle Lime Chicken with no rice, sub broccoli.

Yum! We both cleaned our plates.

While we ate, Alex remarked how pleased he was that we were able to find food that we want to eat and that fits into our current food philosophy. For me, this is a meal that I would probably order, Paleo or not. For Alex, finding an entree that wasn’t a burger on a bun or fried was a bit outside of his norm but he was happy with how full he felt after our meal.

Challenge #1 of Paleo eating? SMASHED.

In the future, we would probably remember to ask for no crutons or cheese on the salad but besides that, we ate within our ‘dietary means’ while dining out. Paleo dining out can be done!