Monday, May 30, 2011

Giveaway: Boy or girl? Take a guess, win a copy of Everyday Paleo!

One week from today (on Monday, June 6th) we'll find out whether Baby Weinberger is a boy or a girl! We are happy with either one, but Carl suspects we're having a boy. Carl is very intuitive so I wouldn't be surprised at all if he's correct.

To mark the occasion, I'm giving away a copy of Everyday Paleo by Sarah Fragoso (the recently-released paleo cookbook everyone is talking about). Everyone who posts a comment below will receive a chance to win. You don't have to guess correctly -- you just have just tell me what your guess is. The guessing starts right now, and you'll have until Monday, June 6th at 8:40am Pacific Time (the time we check-in for our ultrasound) to post your guess below.

I'm sure lots of you are already familiar with Everyday Paleo (the book and the blog), but in case you haven't heard about it yet -- it is a really great book with lots of recipes, as well as advice on how to incorporate healthy eating into your family's daily life. Workouts are included, too.

That's it for now, although I do have a lot of new things to talk about (like last week's workouts, vegetables and the adorable tank top I ordered from For Two Fitness)! I'm hoping to get to this later today. Or maybe tomorrow, depending on how successful I am at completing today's to-do list.

Let the guessing begin!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Sweets, treats and the people who push them on us

In my daily life, I don't face much pressure when it comes to non-paleo food. My husband (though not paleo himself) is totally fine with my paleo cooking and supportive of my choice, and most of the people I see on a daily basis are either paleo themselves or at least understand its principals. Plus, I spend a great deal of time at home by myself ... I'm not in a work setting where people are bringing in cupcakes or ordering pizza everyday, so I don't have to explain myself over and over and over again.

Now that I'm pregnant, however, I'm noticing that more and more people think I need dessert and other bad-for-me food (people at parties, friends' houses, restaurants, places like that). It's like that whole 'license to indulge' concept mentioned in Monday's post. The belief is that because I'm pregnant, I should eat the cheesecake or the cookies or the pie or whatever. I deserve it. My baby needs the calories. One piece won't hurt me. Etc., etc., etc.

"You're pregnant," they say. "Live a little."

How to deal with the pressure
Coming up with a proper response can be a challenge. Sometimes, depending on the person or the setting, I'll offer up a brief explanation about my lifestyle and why I make this choice. More often, though, I'll just change the subject (some folks just aren't going to get it and some just aren't interested).

That's the same approach Stephanie Le, a paleo mom who is expecting her second child in July, takes.

"I don't try to explain my lifestyle to other people, unless they are really curious," says Stephanie, who lives in San Jose and keeps a blog called Ramblings of a Crossfit Mom.

Stephanie says she faces quiet a bit of pressure from family members who wonder why she's "dieting while pregnant."

"They always want to take me out, like to a Mexican or Vietnamese restaurant, but I usually decline," Stephanie says, adding that it doesn't do much good to try to explain because it tends to go in one ear and out the other.

And while declining dinner invitations isn't always fun, sometimes it is the best thing to do (for the sake of your health!). I personally will not accept dinner invitations from certain people, because I know they'll be serving lots of sugar and chemicals, along with meat and/or chicken from unhealthy farms (I don't tell them that -- I just suggest that we get together for something other than dinner). Or, if friends want to go out, I offer to (um, insist on) picking the restaurant. Another option is to go wherever your friends want to go, for the sake of socializing. Just don't order anything. You can always eat later (I've done this a few times).

But isn't it hard to say no to dessert, when everyone else is enjoying it?
Honestly, it isn't that big of a deal. Even before paleo, I often turned down sweets -- I've long held to the philosophy that if a treat isn't a "10," it isn't worth it (and very few make the cut). Plus, I now know the consequences of a sugar binge -- or, more specifically, a sugar/gluten binge. It is lot like a hangover. Not fun. And besides, now that I've experienced the benefits of paleo I don't want to go back to my old ways -- so even if something looks good, I can easily turn it down. Same with Stephanie (especially after attending a Whole9 nutrition seminar where she learned why keeping sugar and starches out of her diet is necessary for her health and her baby's health).

"I will admit that I am a sugar addict and love desserts and breads, but I have the willpower to just say no," Stephanie says.

With all of this said, I would be lying if I claimed I never, ever had dessert. I do have treats now and then (about once a week), but when I do it is always very mindful decision. I'll discuss all of this in a post next week!

How do you handle the "you are pregnant; you deserve it" social pressure to indulge in dessert and other junk food?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Recipe: Spicy paleo meatball soup

This recipe isn't brilliant. I wouldn't even call it creative. The reason I'm sharing it is because I think it is a good example of just how easy and quick it can be to put together a healthy and delicious paleo meal.

Quick and easy is so important when you're pregnant ... if you're anything like me, cooking doesn't have the same appeal it had before.

  • 6 cups homemade chicken stock*
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes (no salt added)
  • 1 4-oz. can fire roasted diced green chiles
  • Fresh lemon juice, to taste
  • Granulated garlic, cumin, black pepper and sea salt (to taste)
Pour the chicken stock, tomatoes (including the juice) and green chiles into a large saucepan or stockpot.  Bring to boil. Meanwhile, season the ground beef with granulated garlic, cumin, black pepper and sea salt. Mix together with your hands. Then, form the meatball (for this application, small is best).

Next, drop the meatballs into the boiling liquid. Once the meatballs are cooked through, squeeze in the lemon juice and simmer for about 10 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

*Boxed or canned chicken stock will work in a pinch, but I'm a fan of homemade. It just tastes so much better. Plus, it is very easy to make. If you need a recipe, The Paleo Table just posted one today!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Paleo + pregnancy cravings: Can the two co-exist?

Ever since I announced my pregnancy, people have been asking me questions. One of the most frequent: Any cravings?

When I say no, it is a surprise. It is almost as if people don't believe me! After all, aren't cravings a standard pregnancy feature?

Before I had first-hand experience with pregnancy, I assumed so. Now, however, I have my doubts. I mean, I don't doubt that many women experience cravings. I believe they do. But I do not believe that cravings are out of our control. And I do believe that with proper nutrition we can avoid them altogether (and we should avoid them altogether, because Taco Bell's Fourth Meal is never ever a wise choice -- pregnant or not).

My experience with pregnancy cravings
Before I explain, let me say a little more about my personal experience. In the days immediately following the confirmation of my pregnancy, I really enjoyed spicy red salsa. So much so, that I ate with a spoon straight from the jar. I did correlate this with pregnancy because, even though I love spicy red salsa, I have never eaten it straight from the jar with a spoon before. That same week, I also decided that hot chocolate was irresistible. Because I couldn't stop thinking about it, I indulged. I ordered the 8-oz. kid-sized one and enjoyed every drop. A few days later, I caved in again -- but after two or three sips, I was done. The hot chocolate went into the trash can, and I haven't wanted one since. I'm over the salsa, too.

These two incidents are about the closest I've personally experienced to cravings. But is that because of paleo?

According to Amy Kubal, M.S., a dietitian who specializes in paleo nutrition, the answer is yes.

"There is definitely something to be said for lack of cravings and diet pattern," Amy says, citing a recent study in the journal Obesity, which indicated that avoiding high-carb junk food reduces the desire for such foods over time."Eating paleo prior to and during pregnancy means that the foods being eaten are healthy, nutrient dense choices opposed to the high carbohydrate, high sugar and other junk foods. The non-exposure to (junk) likely helps decrease cravings for them."

As for the women who do experiencing cravings, they are probably including nutrient-void options in their diets regularly and therefore are more likely to crave them during pregnancy, says Amy, who runs the blog Fuel as RX and also offers nutritional consulting services (check out her consulting page on Robb Wolf's web site).

Interesting! Of course, I'm not surprised. I am glad, though, to have a dietitian back up my hypothesis. Other moms back me up, too. Moms like Peggy from Denver, Colorado, who wrote about her paleo pregnancy on her super-informative blog, The Primal Parent.

Peggy's perspective
Like me, Peggy didn't experience cravings while pregnant.

"A close non-paleo friend of mine had cravings all over the place and I always wondered when mine would set in, but they never did," says Peggy, whose daughter is now five. "I remember one week she was craving peaches like crazy. I thought peaches sounded really good, so I bought some, too. Naturally, they were super good in the middle of summer, so I bought some more. I remember thinking that was the closet to cravings I was going to come."

I also asked Peggy about her thoughts on why pregnant women who are not paleo experience such intense cravings. I love what she had to say, and love that she has the courage to say it (I feel the same way, but so far have been too concerned about ruffling the feathers of my non-paleo friends -- something I really shouldn't worry about)!

"The first (reason), and this may be the biggest problem, is cultural. Women believe that pregnancy is some kind of license to eat whatever you want because you need the extra calories for the baby and because as a pregnant woman you are supposed to gain weight. These beliefs are both nonsense. I certainly expected to gain weight, though I never did," she says (on a side note, I believe Peggy is referring to weight that is above and beyond what the body actually needs to sustain the pregnancy -- obviously the baby itself and things like blood volume, etc., are going to add some temporary pounds).

The other reason, she explains, is more scientific.

"Once a person starts eating more sugar and grains, a lot of things start happening to the body. One is that the pathogenic bacteria in the gut flourish, causing deficiencies and cravings. Opioids in the brain cause an addiction to high glycemic foods, which leads to more cravings," she says, adding that paleo helps eliminate cravings because it stabilizes hormones and provides plenty of healthy dietary fat (in case you didn't get the memo -- fat, like the fat found in avocado, coconut, grass-fed beef, fish, nuts and olive oil, is good for you and you need a lot of it!).

Coping with cravings
With all of this said, I realize this is my first pregnancy and I really don't know exactly what I will experience over the next five months. What I do know, however, is even if I do wind up experiencing cravings I will not give in to them. Nobody needs high carb junk food. And, like Peggy pointed out, pregnancy is not a license to indulge. Not only is it bad for our bodies, it is bad for our growing babies! Besides, there are plenty of strategies out there to help cope with any cravings that do come up. Here are a few tips, courtesy of Amy Kubal:
  • Always choose healthy paleo foods and never allow yourself to get ravenous.
  • If you find yourself with an overwhelming desire to eat a box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts, take a few minutes and decide if that is what you really want. Then, eat a healthy snack with some protein, good carbs and fat.
  • Go for a walk or engage in another activity: it will help get your mind off the temptation.
  • Think about all the good things you are doing for yourself and your baby by nourishing your body with "clean burning fuel."

So, what is the general consensus out there? Did you experience pregnancy cravings while following paleo? I would love to hear your thoughts!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

18 weeks pregnant: A status report

I had some fun posts planned for last week, but for a variety of reasons (one of which involved three days at a hotel with a spotty internet connection) I didn't get much of anything done. I'm playing catch up now! Here's my 18-week status report:  

  • The Bump says my baby is now the size of a sweet potato. I can visualize the baby looking like an onion or avocado (in terms of size), but somehow the sweet potato comparison isn't resonating with me. What do you think?
  • I am holding steady at a 12-pound weight gain.
  • My belly is looking a lot rounder; even rounder than one week ago.
  • The baby has decided to take up residence right next to my bladder, and as a result I am not sleeping through the night. I'll just consider this preparation for the baby's arrival.
  • We have a probable boy's name and a probable girl's name, but we won't make a final decision until we see him or her. We want to make sure the name fits! We're also keeping the name a secret until he or she is born. 
  • Two weeks from tomorrow (June 6th) is the day we find out whether we are having a boy or a girl!
  • I haven't been to A Pea in the Pod for two weeks.
That's about all for now. Everything is going along just fine, and I'm having a hard time believing we're almost to the halfway point.  

Check back tomorrow for a post on pregnancy cravings and the paleo diet.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Pilates personal training and a great paleo lunch

I spent part of my day today doing something I love but haven't done in years: Pilates. April Tillman, owner of Urban Pilates in Northeast Portland, invited me over to her facility for a Pilates personal training session -- one hour on the Reformer (quite possibly the most incredible piece of exercise equipment ever created) is all took to get me hooked, once again.

Carl and I originally discovered Pilates about nine years ago. I took mat classes twice a week, and we also took several Reformer classes in a small group setting together. Carl liked the Reformer so much, actually, that he wanted to build his own machine (at the time, the Reformer classes were really expensive and there was no way we could continue to fit them into the budget). He found plans and started researching materials, but life got in the way (and everyone who knows him knows that if he had the time, money and materials he would indeed build a Reformer). Eventually, the mat classes didn't fit into my schedule anymore. That was in 2006, and we haven't done Pilates since.

So, needless to say, I was super excited about this re-introduction to Pilates and the opportunity to train with April.

April spent one hour taking me through a beginner series of Reformer exercises. Some of it was familiar to me -- like The Hundred and Stomach Massage -- but lots of it was brand new. My favorite part was the short box series. Here I am with April, doing the portion of the series called side-to-side:

I also got to try out the Chair, The Electric Chair and the Cadillac. Every moment of the entire workout was challenging. I had to really think about ever single movement I made, because form and posture are so important in Pilates (they are important in every other workout, too, of course). I know I am going to be feeling this workout tomorrow.

I just absolutely loved my experience with April. She is very nice and extremely knowledgeable (she's been teaching Pilates for 15 years). As for the studio itself, it is beautiful, welcoming and located in a fun urban neighborhood (Northeast Alberta in Portland). Here are a few photos of the interior ...

Inside Urban Pilates: Chairs and Cadillacs.

The Pilates Reformer is one incredible piece of equipment!
In addition to personal and group Pilates classes, Urban Pilates offers a variety of other classes, including Zumba, Bollywood Beatz, functional training and yoga.

Pilates and pregnancy?
So, is Pilates a good choice for pregnant women? Well, it kinda depends. If you have previous Pilates experience and are already fit, then yes. Otherwise, probably not. But if you are a good candidate, April says it can help maintain and improve flexibility and balance during pregnancy. It will also help create body awareness, she says. Of course, the further along you are the more modifications you will require. At 17 weeks, I was OK with everything in the beginner series -- but pretty soon that will change (and even now, mat classes are out) and modifications will be required. I am definitely going to find a way to fit this into my schedule, even if I have to wait until after the baby is born. Thank you, April, for a great session!

After Pilates, lunch
Since I was in Portland anyway, I decided to check out a new food cart called Chili Inside/Chili Outside (located near the corner of NW 19th and Quimby). I usually don't pay all that much attention to food carts (I know, it is probably a crime to say that in Portland), but this one caught my attention because I read a review that emphasized the fact that they serve chili without beans. And beans, as we all know, are not paleo. It can be tough to find decent paleo choices away from home, so I decided to investigate ... just in case it turned out to be a hit.

Before I ordered, though, I had to ask about sugar. Bean-free chili is a great step, but sugar is also a deal breaker. So, I asked the guy working if their recipe contained any of the toxic sweet stuff. I totally expected him to say yes, in which case I wouldn't have stayed. But guess what -- he said no! So, I ordered a small cup of chili (without the cheese, sour cream, onions or corn bread).

It was the most delicious chili I've ever tasted. Ever. That's really all I can say about it. Well, except that I'll definitely go there again with Carl. I know he'll love it, too.

17 weeks pregnant: A status report

Here is a quick overview of how things are progressing, now that I am 17 weeks along:
  • I have gained about 12 pounds, however ...
  • I haven't gained any weight in the past two weeks, nonetheless ...
  • The baby and I are growing, because I look a lot bigger than I did two weeks ago.
  • The baby is now the size of an onion.  
  • My food aversions are subsiding. Meat is no longer a problem, but cooked veggies are still fairly unappetizing.
  • The second trimester burst of energy I kept hearing about finally kicked in! I no longer need naps everyday. Friends tell me to nap while I have the chance, but I just don't want to nap all that often anymore (although, today might be a nap day -- I'm super tired after a busy morning).
  • I'm still doing everything I normally do at the gym, and I am more determined than ever.
  • I've only missed one workout -- three weeks ago on Tuesday, when I had an unrelenting headache.
  • People keep asking me about pregnancy cravings. Aside from salsa and hot chocolate (not together!) in the very early weeks, I have not experienced cravings and I highly doubt I will. Details to come later, in a post specifically dedicated to paleo and pregnancy cravings.
  • The further along I get into my pregnancy, the more committed to paleo I become. I mean, I've been committed all along -- but now I am seeing the benefits of a paleo pregnancy first hand and I really like it (and I know my baby is liking it, too). People tell me I'm lucky because I feel so great, haven't been sick, etc., etc. I don't believe in luck, but even if I did I would not call this luck. 
  • I have spent $438 on maternity clothes, all but $55 at A Pea in the Pod. 
That's it for now. Coming up later, though ... a post about my experience today at Urban Pilates (owner April Tillman invited me in for a personal training session) and a review of my paleo lunch at Chill Inside/Chili Outside (hint: loved them both!).

    Friday, May 13, 2011

    Maternity clothes: I love the Secret Fit Belly!

    Thursday was move-all-my-regular-clothes-to-the-back-of-the-closet day. Now, all of my maternity clothes are front and center. I love how pregnancy gives me an opportunity to shop for a whole new wardrobe!

    So far, my favorite place to shop is still A Pea in the Pod. I hear people talk about how this store is so expensive, but honestly I just don't see it. Yeah, their prices are higher than Target ... but from what I've seen the quality is way way way better. In my opinion, pregnancy is not a time to skimp on quality. I want to be as comfortable as possible, even if it costs me a few extra bucks.

    And I am comfortable in my new pants. The best feature is the Secret Fit Belly -- a stretchy Lycra panel that covers your midsection. The Secret Fit Belly fits me now, and it will fit me in four months.

    This is what the Secret Fit Belly looks like ...

    The jeans I'm wearing in the above photo were $59.99 (the online price is $59.50 right now), a little more than I normally spend on regular jeans (I'm a big fan of the $30 jeans at American Eagle Outfitters) but worth every penny. They don't have a zipper or buttons, so you just pull them on. Genius! My only complaint is that they are just a little too roomy, and not in areas where I'm likely to need the room. I like how A Pea in the Pod carries smaller sizes for smaller people, but I think they need to expand their size collection even more. With that said, I highly doubt I could find a better fit at another store. So, overall, I give A Pea in the Pod four-and-half stars (out of five).

    As for the one-and-only item of my maternity clothing that I didn't buy at A Pea in the Pod, well, I have mixed feelings. The item in question is a pair of Paige Premium Denim maternity jeans that I found at Bella Stella, a consignment shop in Portland.

    I like how the jeans fit in the legs, and they look and feel pretty decent when I'm standing still -- but when I sit down I feel like I'm wearing a pair of too-low low-rise jeans. I know everything is covered by the belly panel, but it doesn't feel that way (you all know what I mean). And speaking of the belly panel, it is terrible compared to the Secret Fit Belly. The fabric is way less forgiving, and it has an actual piece of elastic around the waist! Elastic! I never want elastic around my waist, even when I'm not pregnant. I'm not sure why Paige hasn't joined the Secret Fit Belly revolution (I looked at their web site to verify this in case my used jeans were outdated -- they are not). Especially considering that the regular price of Paige denim is upwards of $150 (I only paid $30 for mine). Anyway, I'm not sure how much wear I'll get out of these jeans. Hey, maybe I can take them back for re-consignment?! Two-and-a-half stars.

    Wednesday, May 11, 2011

    Yesterday's paleo menu: a photo journal

    OK, so I kinda have to laugh at the post I'm about to write because I'm about to do what was once considered a big blogging DON'T -- I'm about to write about what I had for lunch yesterday.

    Back in the early-ish days of blogging, my journalists friends and I were having lots of conversations about blogs and trying to decide whether we should have them, whether they would benefit us (or anyone else) and what we should blog about. I remember very specifically some advice I read from an expert on the topic. Do not blog about what you had for lunch. Nobody cares about your PB&J.

    This might still be true in some genres, but not in the paleo world. I for one care a lot about what other people have for lunch because it gives me ideas, it helps me stay on track and it reminds me that I am not alone (even though we paleo types make up a very small portion of the population). One of my favorite blogs, in fact, is NomNom Paleo. The writer posts all her meals and snacks -- with photos, descriptions and sometimes recipes. Everything always looks great, and I love her writing style (I'm also very impressed with her mad cooking skills).

    Also, I don't think a week goes by in which someone -- usually someone who is not paleo -- asks me what I eat every day. Some (though not many, unfortunately) are interested in trying out paleo, and some are just are intrigued by my ability to start the day without breakfast cereal or yogurt.

    So, without further adieu, here is my food journal from yesterday ...

    Breakfast, 7am: 3 scramble eggs, 1/2 cup of frozen blueberries sprinkled with unsweetened coconut flakes

    For some reason, I was starving at 10:30am. So, I grabbed some leftover salad with chicken, lettuce, cucumber and red pepper from the fridge. I added a boiled egg and some olive oil to make it more balanced. 

    11:15am: Still starving (this is weird; I rarely snack between breakfast and lunch), so I sliced up an apple
    and dipped it in almond butter.

    At noon, I went to Sweat 360 for HiDef. After the warm-up, we worked on max pull-ups. Confession: I totally played the pregnancy card and cheated by using the green band when I should be using blue (with green, I can easily to 13 pull-ups -- probably more). Yeah, I totally feel guilty about it. The workout was a 400m run, followed by five rounds of seven squat cleans, seven American-style kettle-bell swings and seven hurdle hops. We ended with a 400m run, too.

    At 2pm, I had a boiled egg (sorry, no photo -- we all know what a boiled egg looks like, right?) and then headed out to New Seasons Market to shop. We were out of everything. Everything except grass-fed beef, that is -- we recently stocked our freezer with 1/4 of a cow from Full of Life Farm.

    At New Seasons I bought some plantain chips. I didn't eat them all at once, but there were gone by the end of the day.

    At 5pm, I headed into downtown Portland for a MediaBistro party (I facilitate these parties quarterly with my friend Megan McMorris). Our venue provides food, but it is all non-paleo. So, I had a few slices of
    Applegate Farms turkey bacon before I left.

    I got home around 9pm -- way too late for dinner. Instead, I had some Dagoba 87% dark chocolate and went to bed.

    So, this probably doesn't look like much. I generally don't think in terms of calories (although I used to -- and it is nice to be free of that), but I'm guessing that this all totals around 1,300. The reason I'm mentioning this is because I can imagine someone reading this post and getting the impression that I am not providing enough nutrition for my baby. That isn't the case at all. I eat what I want, whenever I want and as much or as little as I want. That is one of the cool things about paleo -- you are eating the right foods, so you don't have to concern yourself with how many calories you are consuming. Yesterday, I was hungry in the morning but I wasn't interested in dinner. So I skipped it. Pregnant or not, that's the right thing to do.

    Monday, May 9, 2011

    16-week midwife appointment and my thoughts on gestational diabetes testing

    This morning, we had our 16-week appointment with my midwife (Christine). She is just so, so nice and I am SO happy we found her.

    The appointment was short, in part because we didn't really have any questions (everything is going very smoothly). Carl did ask her whether I needed to scale back my workouts at all, and she said no (as long a I am still feeling good, which I am). But she was in total agreement that I should probably hold off on trying to climb ropes at Sweat360, which is totally fine because I have no intention of attempting a rope climb until after the baby is born.

    We also listened to the baby's heartbeat again, and it is beating strong -- between 150 and 160.

    Otherwise, the main topic of conversation at the appointment was the gestational diabetes test, which typically takes place between sometime 24 and 28 weeks. I have no intention of drinking that sugary concoction. I just won't do it. Because my diet is so low in sugar I think the chances of a false positive are pretty high. And even if I didn't get a false positive result, I would probably get sick from the test anyway. Plus, I've been reading an incredibly detailed medical textbook that my chiropractor loaned to me called Understanding Diagnostic Tests in the Childbearing Year: A Holistic Guide to Evaluating the Health of Mother and Baby by Anne Frye and Rhonda Wheeler. The book says the following:

    "If the diet is good and there are no classic diabetic symptoms, tests are not needed and are best avoided."

    Nonetheless, I do see at least some value in screening for gestational diabetes (given my age, 38, and the fact that I do have a family history of diabetes), so I asked Christine whether there is an alternative. She said yes -- hurray! I cannot remember the exact name of the test (serum glucose, maybe?), but this is how it works: I will fast for eight hours, then they'll draw blood. After the blood draw, I'll eat some carbs and then they'll draw my blood again. This will tell them everything they need to know (and I won't be poisoning my body with a nasty, sugary drink). BTW, this is not the same as the A1C test -- Christine said the A1C measures glucose levels over a 4-month period, so it doesn't provide an accurate read on a pregnant woman's current situation.

    Christine did ask me why I didn't want to take the standard test, but she was completely supportive of my choice to skip it in favor of the alternative.

    At the end of our appointment, we scheduled our next appointment and the 20-week ultrasound! That is when we'll be able to find out the answer to the question: boy or girl? I'm so excited to find out!

    After I got home, I tried to take some photos of my 16-week belly. It is near-impossible to do this on my own, but I did my best ...

    Friday, May 6, 2011

    Paleo boosts the immune system, even while pregnant

    The benefits of paleo never cease to amaze me. It is improving my life and my health more and more every single day. Here's a story about something I experienced this week.

    First, a little history. Even though I've never had any serious health problems, I have always been a magnet for the common cold virus. If it was going around, I caught it. And for me, it was never minor -- the common cold would derail my entire life for days, sometimes two weeks or more. I mean, I was unable to function. My freelance writing colleagues always seemed to power through and continue working with colds, but not me. More often than not, my cold would turn into an ear infection (twice, my eardrum ruptured -- once last March and once in 1996). Not fun.

    I think those days are over for me, though. I had one pretty ugly cold back on October, two weeks into the paleo meltdown challenge at my gym, but since then I've been common-cold free. In fact, I haven't been sick at all.

    Until Tuesday morning, that is. Right around 11am, I started getting a sore throat. My head hurt and I could not stop sneezing. For me, this is how it all begins -- so I started to freak out. I have been warned on numerous occasions that pregnancy alters the immune system, making it more difficult to fight viruses, so I was envisioning at least five miserable days of congestion, headaches and sneezing. Nonetheless, I went to the gym and made it through the workout (we did push presses, burpees, around-the-world kettle bells swings, a couple of 400m runs and one other thing with dumbbells that I totally cannot remember right now). I couldn't wait to finish. When I got home, I made a cup of tea and went to bed. I felt like crap. I had all the sign tell-tales signs of a typical week-long cold. Could it have been allergies? Um, no. I have a lot of experience with seasonal allergies, too, and the difference is striking.

    When I woke up in the morning, my cold was ... gone. I was shocked, and for a moment wondered if I was sleepwalking or dreaming. Well, I was not dreaming. I was simply not sick, and the rest of my week was totally normal (better than normal even). Today, I still feel great.

    The only explanation for this is paleo. I'm not saying I'll never have a cold again, but I do believe that the body functions better overall when it isn't continuously exposed to the toxins that are prevalent in the Standard American Diet. I'm proof of that are so are many of my friends.

    I can't help but wonder what my pregnancy would be like if I were still on the low-fat, whole-grain, plants-before-protein train. I don't want to find out, though!

    Wednesday, May 4, 2011

    Baby bump photos

    Me and Carl on our 10-year anniversary: November 11, 2010
    14 weeks along: April 26, 2011
    OK, first things first. I've posted some photos below, in which I am not smiling. These photos don't reflect my mood. I'm a serious person, but not a grumpy one. The photo above is a more accurate portrayal of my outlook on life.

    I am now 15 weeks along. Well, 15 weeks and a few days! I have gained 10 pounds, and friends are starting to notice the baby bump. Weight-wise, I still weigh about one pound less than I did a year or so ago when I started moving toward paleo (I didn't go 100% at first ... it was somewhat of a gradual transition). As many of my friends know, I've been pretty freaked about the weight gain I've experienced. Not that I didn't anticipate weight gain, I just thought most of it would come later (because so many other people report very little weight gain in the first three or four months). Overall, though, I'm happy with how things are going. Kili, my trainer, took my measurements the other day and I was relieved to discover that my arms and legs are not growing. My only extra inches are right where they should be, including two extra inches around my waist -- which explains why I am now wearing maternity pants.

    Up above is a photo Carl took last week, and below is a photo from two months ago. I'm not sure why I felt compelled to show bare skin in the March 1st photo, other than the fact that I was convinced my pregnancy was already obvious (in hindsight, it probably wasn't). 

    Six weeks along: March 1, 2011

    Tuesday, May 3, 2011

    What is paleo?

    I realize I haven't really explained what exactly I'm talking about here when I use the term 'paleo.' Most readers probably already know, but in case someone stumbles across my blog who isn't familiar with it, here is a quick rundown.

    The paleo diet is:
    • Focused on healthy, real food (eggs, vegetables, fruit, meat, poultry, fish, nuts, seeds).
    • Free of grains, legumes, dairy and refined sugar.
    • Anti-inflammatory.
    • Disease-fighting.
    • A prescription for beautiful, glowing skin.
    • Nutrient-rich.
    • Allergy-reducing.
    • Great for digestion.
    • Easy to implement.
    • Delicious.
    • Suitable for the whole family.
    • Sustainable (in that you can do it long term).
    • Sustainable (as in green).
    • The diet our bodies were designed to consume.
    • A sure-fire way to shed extra pounds and reduce body fat.
    • Great for athletes, fitness enthusiasts and even just leisurely folks who want to be a little more active.
    • Did I mention delicious?
    The paleo diet is not:
    • Atkins.
    • Deprivation.
    • A fad.
    • Low in fiber, calcium or any other dietary essentials.
    • A cult.
    • Endorsed by mainstream dietitians.
    • Endorsed by the FDA/USDA.
    • Boring.
    • Something that requires calorie counting.
    • Low fat.
    • A quick fix.
    • Impossible.
    I know this might sound kinda out there to some, but the thing is -- it works. It really, really works. On the paleo diet, you will feel better and you will achieve your goals.

    But what about the evidence? Aren't we supposed to follow the food pyramid, to snack on low-fat dairy, to include high-fiber whole grains in our diet? Well, lots of people think so. If that is where you stand right now and you need scientific evidence, I suggest consulting the experts. Robb Wolf is pretty much the go-to guy on the topic and his book, The Paleo Solution, explains it all. He also has a really interesting podcast (you can find it on iTunes). There are lots of other great sources, too, but Robb Wolf is just very approachable and very real and he says things in a way that makes sense (and he doesn't sugar-coat anything) -- so this is a good first stop.

    Sometimes, though, it is not scientific evidence that seals the deal -- it is anecdotal evidence. I'm at a point where I understand the science behind it, but that isn't what keeps me going. It is the fact that I am stronger and leaner than ever before. My allergies have improved. I sleep better. I have fewer headaches. I never have that icky, bloaty feeling.

    I also give paleo at least partial credit for my ability to get pregnant so fast. Not that everyone on paleo is going to conceive at lightening speed -- some people have fertility-related issues that have nothing to do with diet -- but word on the street is that paleo seems to help a lot. This is what Robb Wolf had to say about it on a recent podcast ...

    "If you want to get pregnant, you work out at a smart level, make sure your sleep is good, make sure your vitamin D is good, and then eat paleo. Control that insulin level, control inflammation. And people get pregnant at shocking rates."

    As someone who got pregnant shockingly fast, I think there might be something to this.

    So, there you have it ... a quick overview of paleo. I'm happy to answer questions if anyone wants to know more. And for others in the paleo community, what else should beginners know about paleo? Any great links or books you recommend?