It's day 24 of my primal eating challenge, and I don't want to say
that it has been "easy," because that makes me sound smug about it and
I really don't want to sound that way because I am fully aware of some
of the absolutely nightmarish sugar and grain addictions that some
people confront as a part of these challenges. It's not quite kicking
heroin, but it can be a very big deal.
But for me it's been, at worst, moderately annoying at times. The only
things I have repeatedly passed up on that I would normally consume
are booze, dark chocolate and pre-workout protein powder (no, not
together...heh) ; oh, and I suppose the odd black bean here and there.
In other words, I really don't eat gluten anyway. This primal-eating
journey of mine has been a long slow burn that started last year,
rather than a turn-on-a-dime reversal of long-entrenched bad habits
just for the challenge.
It was also spectaularly well-timed, coming just after I got home from
two weeks in Germany with Jamie where we ate and drank gluten-y things
that we never would otherwise.
So what have I learned? A lot, actually.
Despite spending some of the challenge battling with (and fighting
off) a sinus infection/cold that normally would have had me way down
and out, I feel really effing good being this uber-clean about my
eating. My energy levels are higher and I need less caffeine than
usual to get through a day. I think my immune system is doing really
well, because I know a lot of people who got hit pretty hard with this
cold. I didn't.
I also learned that while dairy is often a great source of good fat
for me, when it is grassfed, I need to stay away from it altogether if
trying to battle a cold. As soon as I made that switch mid-challenge,
the evil cold-induced snot began to dissipate.
My Raynaud's, as I told you already, appears to be gone. When I drink
post-challenge, I need to be smart about it and do it in ways that
don't make it a giant insulin spike, which will trigger Raynaud's
again. I also need to see how that goes, and be realistic in my future
evaluation of whether resuming alcohol intake, even through "smart"
drinking, means the return of Raynaud's anyway. If so, some tough
choices may have to be made.
Likewise -- and this is one I haven't discussed here in a while -- a
lifetime of sometimes-on/sometimes-off acid reflux (GERD) seems to
have gone completely by the wayside as well. I hadn't been taking
Prevacid for much of the time since I went primal last year, just some
occasional antacids, but, in the three months prior to the challenge,
I had re-experienced some GERD and so I restarted the Prevacid, with
little effect, so I added a nighttime Zantac. Then, when I mentioned
it to my doc at a September physical, he had suggested trying *just*
the Zantac, since it is just an antacid rather than a full-on
proton-pump inhibitor (PPI). That did the trick, even amidst the beery
goodness of Deutschland. But then, when I started this challenge, I
skipped some Zantac, and found I didn't even need that. Apparently,
all that stuff about reevaluating alcohol in regards to Raynaud's
applies to GERD too.
I also learned some super-micro/tweak-ish things about eating. I
mentioned at one point that fruit ingested immediately pre-workout
causes the glycolytic demands of the workout to kickstart your liver
to use fructose as an energy source. That's good, and it works well.
While I miss my pre-workout protein shakes, I think that if I revisit
them post-challenge, I am going to keep eating fruit pre-workout as
well. I also am not going to eat much of it otherwise. I already knew
that fruits and veggies are not interchangeable, but I learned it
again this month. If I eat too much fruit in a setting other than
immediately pre-workout, it moderately spikes my insulin. That's bad
news, and it makes me crazy.
I also learned that good carbs like sweet potatoes and even
occasionally white rice are good for me all the time. Yeah, they are a
righteous bump toward recovery if ingested in the hour post-workout,
but for a guy like me, who is lean enough and doesn't want to lose
weight. I could eat 'em at nearly every meal and feel great. In fact,
I think I feel better when I do.
Additionally, I became aware of a strong preference I have for
grassfed ruminants (beef and lamb) over other meat sources. Yeah, pork
is delicious and I definitely eat some of it, and salmon is awesome if
wild-caught, but I don't think I ate chicken once yet during the
challenge, and I haven't missed it. Sure, I'll eat it sometimes, but a
steady intake of grassfed beef and, especially, lamb has me flying
In the gym, I haven't been a rockstar lately, even by my own meager
standards, but I blame that on my cold hanging around just enough to
screw with my sleep. I've been fine, just not PRing alll over the
place. Hell, but even with the beginnings of a cold, I nearly PR'd my
"Helen" time (one effing second!!) and I have come close in some other
workouts, just nothing spectacular. But let's be serious, no one ever
used the word "spectacular" to describe my typical gym performance, so
even the ability to hang on through a cold with decent workouts has
been a really good thing, and a direct result of good eating. I am
curious to see how my post-challenge time comes in on a gym-specific
benchmark workout that we are all doing on November 14.
All in all, this challenge has been a very very good thing so far. I
have a week to go and am hoping for some more positive revelations in
that time. Let's go.