Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Crunchy, counter-cultural or just a bit weird?

Last year was all about jumping on bandwagons for me. Well, two bandwagons, and one was in the final weeks of 2013, so maybe 'all about' is slight exaggeration, but this leaping aboard has had an impact.
The bandwagons: paleo and simplicity. The result: a change (kind of) to the way I eat, exercise, spend money, and how I look at my place in the world, my home and living sustainably.
A 'kind of' change, because while I was for the most part firmly seated on the train of mainstream culture, for a long time I had, say, an elbow on each of these other wagons. I just didn't know it.
Anyway, I did eventually discover paleo and simplicity. I found books and blogs that defined the concepts and demonstrated how to apply them. I devoured all the information I could find, and it resonated because, as I tried to explain with the elbow analogy, I'd already been enjoying some elements of these lifestyles. Plus, they tied in with some practices I like to use as a parent.
I had long wanted to expand upon my experiences and ideas of healthy, simple and green living. But I had no knowledge of how to do so. Until I stumbled on Sarah Wilson's blog and my eyes were opened.
My revised approach to living could be described as a bit 'crunchy'. Or counter-cultural. Or, as my mother may well put it, a 'bit weird'.
That said, I'm far from revolutionary. Much of my life is as conventional as it gets.
And I'm not saying my way is the best way. It's just the best way for me. Plus, when my actions may have a social or environmental upside, it helps sooth the part of my conscience troubled by getting my livelihood from industries that some consider modern evils: mining, and before that, the media. Including (gasp!) the Murdoch media.
So, what exactly does my (wildly exciting) healthy and green life entail?
Let's start with food and exercise and sleep.

Food
As mentioned, I eat a paleo diet. It's also called a primal diet. When people hear the word 'diet' they usually think in terms of all the stuff you don't eat. But to be honest, there's very little I never eat. Sushi, custard, tinned mushrooms, Brussels sprouts, instant coffee and probably a couple of other things I can't think of right now. Because those things are VILE. I'm almost gagging just writing them down.
I eat whole foods. Not food products. Plus chocolate (obviously). Meaning:
* Meat and fish
* Veggies
* Eggs
* Fruit (small amounts)
* Nuts
* Tea
My homemade chocolate a-cooking.

I rarely eat:
* Grains/cereals
* Sugar
* White potatoes
* Alcohol 
* Vegetable oils 
* Legumes (I don't count green peas and beans as legumes, though technically they are).

Classic paleo - dead animal cooked over fire (not the Coke).
There's more to it than caveman-style food, of course.

Most days I also eat minimally processed food like coconut oil, olive oil, ghee, butter and flavourings like mustard, salt and pepper.
Coffee, dairy products and meats like bacon and ham are occasional foods. Though it wasn't always this way - when I first gave up grains and sugar I hoovered down cheese and bacon like nobody's business. And still had a daily coffee (usually de-caf). Eventually I decided I was better off limiting the dairy and bacon, and actually this was pretty easy. I also decided I didn't need my coffee every day, so abandoned it, other than sometimes having a flat white or something when in town as a treat. Weirdly, I don't even miss it.
Special treats are wine, hot chips and crisps (provided they're salt and vinegar - anything else is a waste of a treat), toast, cake, ice cream, restaurant food and the like.
That's it. Simple, tasty and healthy. I don't count calories. I eat when I'm hungry and as much as I feel like.
I've lost a couple of kilo's since adopting paleo, but nothing outstanding. More importantly, I feel better. Disturbed sleep - a regular occurrence with a toddler in residence - still knocks me around, but much less so than previously.

Also classic paleo - a stack of
veggies with olive oil.
Smoothie-for-two for breakfast.


Exercise
Adopting a primal approach to exercise has been a revelation. The basic gist is to do a couple of short, intense, I'm-about-to-pop-something workouts a week, and the rest of the time move gently. But move a lot.
For me this means one (two, preferably) days of weights, where I lift as much as I can, but only do it for about 20 minutes, and one day of interval sprints on a gym bike. And other than that, lots of walking and easy movement. Which luckily suits my role perfectly now that I'm not condemned to an office chair all week. I walk everywhere I can, including on a treadmill at the gym because I can read at the same time, plus there's housework, garden work, playing with the toddler, playing with the puppies, etc etc. What I'm trying to say is I have lots of ways to keep moving, but which don't leave me totally fecked.
And I love this way of exercising. There's minimal pain - because there's only a couple of hard sessions, they're more about stimulation than sufferance. And the rest of the time moving about slowly is pretty relaxing, and even fun, depending on the activity. And convenient.

Obviously we don't always follow the plan.
Treats are enjoyed as treats should be.

Sleep
Without a doubt one of the best things about paleo/primal is what the experts tell you to do regarding sleep. Bottom line: get more. And then more again. As much as you can. Suits me! Basic guideline, though obviously what works for everyone is different, is to go to bed early and get up early. And nap. Bliss! How can you not love something that tells you to nap?
Of course, I rarely get the eight-nine hours daily they recommend. But I no longer feel guilty for napping when Rosie does. Or like a loser for going to bed at 8pm-8.30pm each night.
The simple living people are also big on sleep and recharging. And they advocate getting up early. At the moment, in the midst of summer, everyone in our house seems to start surfacing about 4.30am. Paul has to be up about 5am for work. Most mornings Rosie has me up between 5am and 5.30am, but if she happens to sleep in I'm normally up about 5.30 anyway (depending on the kind of night she's had).
During the past winter we both slept longer, so it will be interesting to see what happens when it comes around again.

So, that's eating/exercise/sleep in a long-winded nutshell. If you're interested, these are great sites with better explanations on the primal lifestyle and clean eating:
* Whole9
* Marks Daily Apple

And, if you're still interested, I'll soon have a post on living a simple and greener life.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on clean eating and the paleo approach. Are any readers fellow primal people? And I'd love to answer any questions!

2 comments:

  1. Emma, I take my hat off to you! Personally, I just could not give up coffee - especially lattes - or my Friday night gin and tonic. But I do like the whole idea of living more simply and I have just started a huge New Year clean out at my place. I am giving away lots of baby stuff (no more babies at my house) and everything that I can't sell on Gum Tree is going to the Salvos. Hopefully my boys will see that living with less stuff is no bad thing! Brooke

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