Saturday, January 29, 2011

A Sleep Aid that Works... Too Well

I'll Have What He Had
I don't know about you, but I tend to get giddy 
when trying new supplements. I suppose it's because I don't know what to expect until I try it. I'm not sure how my body will react. My body is the experiment, but I am also the scientist. I am the guinea pig and the administrator. I'll gladly put my body on the line for the sake of myself. Will it work? Will I feel anything? Any hardcore drug user would laugh at the thought of tinkering with your calcium levels, but that's exciting enough for me.

For this experiment, I decided to try Magnesium Citrate. It was recommended by Robb Wolf (author of The Paleo Solution) as a way to balance out your calcium and magnesium levels, and as an added bonus, it puts you to sleep faster than Diane Rehm reading you a bed time story. I found Natural Calm, by Terry Gillham in the supplement isles of Whole Foods. It was roughly twenty dollars for a container. I opted for the un-flavored variety.

Day 1
After twisting the cap, a burst of white powder fills the air. It smells citrusy. I want to know more. I measure one teaspoon and mix it into a glass of hot water. To my delight, it fizzles and cracks as the white powder diffuses into the water. Here is goes; I take a sip. Not too bad. It tastes like lemon tea. 

I sit back on my bed and continue to read more of "The Hitchhicker's Guide to the Galaxy." As I turn the pages, I begin to feel eerily at ease. A slight numbing sensation envelopes my body. It's similar to the feeling of playing outside in the snow and then going inside to sip hot chocolate by the fire. It is oddly comforting, and initially I am enthralled by it. Success! I think to myself, and moments later I am passed out in my bed.

Day 2-14
I continued to use the product and my sleep was fantastic. I even wrote a post after waking up a 6am, which I never do, wide awake and ready for the day. But that day was an anomaly, and I could not repeat the success of waking up in the morning feeling so refreshed. Not only that, but I was beginning to feel a little more relaxed during the day. All day long. I am normally a low-key person. It takes a lot to get me excited, and this supplement was making me even more relaxed. I suppose I should have seen this coming. It does claim to be an anti-stress drink.

I welcome relaxation, especially when I am prone to anxiety, but this was too much. My mind felt slow. I was lethargic. Words were hard to find, and I just felt generally off. But my sleep was excellent. Was it worth sacrificing my waking life for quality time spent in the sheets? Heck no.

Ultimately I did not want that trade off. Magnesium supplement works - maybe too well - at relaxing your body and your mind. I would rather have marginally worse sleep and still have an active mind then vice versa. But all is fair in experimentation. My goal was to try it out. I wanted to know if it would work for me as it did for others. My results seem uncommon, and through research I was unable to find results like mine (where someone feels mentally dull as a result of Magnesium). But now you have at least one documented case.

This is not meant to scare you from trying it. I offer my findings, so that you may better inform yourself when looking to Magnesium as a sleep aid. I've tried a lot of different things to get better sleep, but the one that works the best: a pitch black room. I'd like to see GNC try to put that in a store.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Review of Mark Sisson's Bison Chili

It's Game Time
Every winter, recipes for chili litter the internet. Teasing and taunting people to choose themas the recipe for a holiday or Super Bowl party. Chili is a crowd favorite, because it's so easy, and it's usually pretty cheap. The latest recipe taunting me was from Mark Sisson's “The Primal Blueprint Cookbook” and was simply named “Bison Chili”.

Mark runs a wildly popular blog about primal eating (similar to paleo), and this book was made from the contributions of his devoted readers. With food all-stars like bison, cocoa powder, and everyone’s favorite - bacon, I had high expectations for the recipe. I didn't mind the hour that it took to prepare. Nor did I mind the hour it simmered in the crockpot, because I thought it would be worth the wait. 

Missing the Mark 
This recipe let me down on multiple fronts: the carrots were still crunchy, the consistency was watery, and somehow the bacon was underwhelming. - I could hardly taste it. It smelled like a dish caught between a stew and a chili. Unable to choose a side it didn’t satisfy either craving. Also, the proportions were uneven for my taste. A surplus of meat overwhelmed the other ingredients. The carrots were sparse and overshadowed by mountains of ground bison; it was a vegetarian’s nightmare.

The worst part was not the disproportion of meat but was the combination of spices. In the cook book, he describes this chili as "not very spicy” – which is true. Although, bland is a more accurate adjective. The spices did not complement each other well. Paprika is a favorite spice of mine, and a trusty companion for chili, but the rest of the spices do nothing for the dish. Most of all, I am disappointed in the cocoa powder. It adds nothing to the complexity of the dish except a bitter after taste.

Cognitive Dissonance 
Don't get me wrong, I'll finish the 3lbs of chili that this recipe made, but I will not make it again. There are too many other good chili recipes to try. Even ones that aren't quite “paleo” can be altered. It's as simple as subtracting the beans from most recipes.

Did I choose the wrong cookbook this Christmas? I figured this book would keep my diet in check, but, I didn't want to sacrifice taste. Maybe I would be better off finding more recognized recipes and substituting. Maybe those physicians had it right when they chose this book as one of the worst cookbooks of 2010.

There are Always Alternatives
This was the first recipe I tried of his, so I can't be too harsh. After all, this blogger really seemed to like it, as did the reviewers on Amazon. Perhaps, there are other redeeming recipes in his book. I'll give it another shot, but this was not a good first impression. If that was my introduction to a paleo/primal meal, I would never be going back for seconds.

For a quick and tasty chili alternative try this one from it uses salsa as the tomato base, which is genius, so you don't have to chop a ton of vegetables. It’s simple, cheap, and delicious.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

If Willy Wonka Could Make Vegetables

Umpa, Lumpa, Dippity-dee
When I saw this striking vegetable in the supermarket, I wondered how it managed to hide from me all these years. Maybe it was more me hiding from them. But now that I am exploring vegetables these leafs screamed "Look at me!" I'm a sucker for color; I had to grab a bunch. But how should I prepare them?

I found a delicious and easy recipe for swiss chard from a YouTube channel called Hungry in Brooklyn. The video itself was nicely edited, and I would have believed it if she said this was a new web series for the cooking or travel channel.

In her video, Shea Hess talks to a Chef and a famer to find out some tips on this psychedelic vegetable. Here are a few things to know about swiss chard:

- It is pronounced CHard like Chocolate
- Leafy vegetable similar to spinach
- Member of the beet family
- Spring/fall are the best times to buy

Here is the recipe she used:

Sautéed Swiss Chard with Shallots and Garlic

Strip leaves from the rib (stem)
Cut off ends of rib
Cut the ribs into small 1/4in pieces
Chop 2 shallots
Chop 2 cloves of garlic
2 tbs of olive oil
1/4 cup of white wine
1 tbs of butter

Toss olive oil, Chard ribs, shallots, and garlic into pan
Add a little salt
Add the leafs of chard (blanch two minutes before hand)
Add white wine
Cook it down, so the alcohol evaporates
Add butter

The recipe was a little time consuming, only because she says you should blanch the vegetables to reduce bitterness and to prevent burning. Total time to cook was about 25 minutes, but the results were fantastic. Not only were the colors bright and vibrant, but it tasted phenomenal. The center rib from the chard gave the dish a crunchy dimension, and the leaves tasted like a wonderful shade of spinach.  

It was an excellent side dish to steak. The crispy outside of the steak and the crunchy ribs were a good pairing. Also, if you’re looking for a dish to give your dinner a little liveliness, then chard is the way to go. It looks like something out of the Willy Wonka factory, but it tastes so much better.

One thing to note if you are having company or want left overs: the leaves cook down a lot, and I was left wanting more. A whole bunch of chard easily boiled down to about two cups. This was fine for me, but if you’re having guests, or you want to have left overs I would recommend cooking two bunches. 

Check out more of Hungry in Brooklyn’s videos here:

Friday, January 14, 2011

Mustard, the New Superfood?

Let Me Paint You a Picture
Imagine a typical American kitchen. An middle aged woman is stirring a pot, and she looks a bit concerned. Then a voice from off screen says, "Is that chili too boring? Why don't you spice it up with a little French's?" The scene changes to another woman making macaroni and cheese, "Spice it up with French's!" A third shot reveals yet another woman and her daughter looking at some plain chicken (apparently only women can cook). "It's even great in a marinade!" the voice says, and the family agrees as they smile at each other. We pan back over the family eating and laughing. Looks like French's really brought the family together and saved the day! Then, as the container of mustard flies around the room, the slogan is revealed: “Happy Starts Here.”

No, I didn't make this up. I wish I did. I saw this commercial last night while watching the Food Network. I instantly turned off the TV after that line. It reeks with a lack of imagination. The phrase falls flat despite the elaborate portrayal of mustard as the hero of tonight’s dinner. 

I am disgusted at marketers today. Can’t you come up with anything original? (and mustard on mac and cheese isn’t original, that just sounds nasty) Happiness? Really? If you think your happiness comes from mustard then I want to know what you think sadness comes from, purely out of curiosity. Toast? Lite-Brite? Justin Bieber

What is Your Happiness Worth?
Tying an emotion to a product is not a new concept. Even capitalizing on people wanting to be happy isn't new. Look at this list of slogans from

1) Coca Cola:  Open Happiness 
2) Lay's (a unit of Pepsico): The Happiness Exhibit 
3) Unilver: Share Happy 
4) Best Buy: Buyer Be Happy 
5) Ben & Jerry's: Scoop of Happiness 
6) City of Baltimore: Find Your Happy Place in Baltimore 
7) Nivea: a) Happy Sensation Lotion; and b) Touch of Happiness Body Wash 
8) Golden Coral: Help Yourself to Happiness 
9) French's Mustard: Happy Starts here 
10) Adidas: 2010 FIFA World Cup Soccer Ball is Named Jabulani (Share Happiness in Zulu) 
11) Rita's: a) Ice - Custard - Happiness; and b) What Flavor is Your Happiness? 
12) Hershey's Chocolate: Hershey's makes S'more happiness. 
13) Comcast: Happiness is Only a Power Button Away 
14) IHOP: Come Hungry, Leave Happy 
15) Edible Arrangements: Happiness is Always in Season 
16) HomeGoods: a) Be HomeGoods Happy; and b) Spread Happiness 

It bothered me when Coke came out with “Open Happiness” which is the most egotistical slogan I’ve heard to date. But when mustard is the source of our happiness, that's when I put my foot down. Companies are taking this too far. 

How can we possible expect to channel our happiness though a condiment? That's what they want. They want the association between their product and our emotions to be so strong that when we think about that swirling line of mustard on our hot dogs we'll think we've won the lottery. Maybe that's a bit strong. That would be a best case scenario. But this commercial doesn't even come close to that fantasy; it is horrible. The family is happy, and they really came together tonight, but let's not forget the hero of tonight’s dinner. The freaking mustard!

Maybe I'm Being a bit Harsh on French's.
After all, marketing a product as lame as mustard must difficult. I can see a team standing in an office huddled around a dry erase board, 

"And then, out of nowhere, the mustard flies out of the cabinet. And the parents are shocked, but not too shocked, because someone has rescued them from the drudgery of cooking."
OOOooo and AHHhhs fill the room
“Then what?” someone asks.
“Why then he'll fly around shooting magical lines of mustard all over the kitchen, and dinner will be saved because we smothered everything in mustard."
“You’re a genius.”
“I know, I know.”
"Should we give it a cape?" 
"Don’t be stupid.”

So, if not Happiness, What Then?
What would I associate mustard with? Well, I don't enjoy mustard so this might be difficult. But I'll give it a shot. Mustard isn't the hero that it's portrayed in this ridiculous commercial. It's more like a close friend (the one you ignore but is always there when you need them). It knows ketchup and you are best friends, and it doesn’t want to break you up, but it still wants your attention. Standing next to the mayonnaise and relish silently screaming “Try me, try me!” You finally opt for mustard, and a clique montage ensues.

When you win the first softball game for your work league, and ketchup is busy with the first basemen, mustard is there to dress your hot dog. When you’re sick you can turn mustard into a homemade sore throat relief, and when those pesky kids won't stop stealing the beer from your garage you can hit them with a mustard stink bomb. You high-five mustard. “That will teach them a lesson” Then you politely close the door on mustard as you and ketchup watch the rest of Gilmore Girls. Mustard waits patiently outside. It’s raining, but it doesn’t care. It knows someday you’ll be back for more of that spicy golden goodness. You look outside and close the blinds.

Could French’s Pull it Off?
Would they want to? Who knows? But they have a better chance at injecting a little humor than making their mustard the beloved savoir of all things dinner. As David Gianatasio for Ad Week puts it, "Sure, you're getting '40% more free,' but it's just mustard. How much can any one family consume? It's not like the stuff tastes good on cereal or swirled into coffee." Sorry French's, mustard is unlikely to overtake ketchup as the condiment of choice any time soon. But you might have better luck changing your marketing tactics, because happiness isn’t working for you.

Ps. Who’s your condiment best friend? Mine used to be a savory, bold sauce named B.B.Q.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Walk Like a Ninja for $30

In the wake of Vibram Five Fingers' (dare I say) popularity, there have been plenty of companies eager to jump on the minimalist footwear bandwagon. Big players like Nike and Mizuno were quick to get in the game, and just about everyone nowadays seems to have there own minimalist running shoe. But what's really nice to see are smaller companies giving it a go.

A Sneaky Design
Zem is a company based out of Miami, Florida that is crafting shoes primarily for indoor use (yoga, pilates). Their shoes are lightweight and give the user lots of flexibility, which is important when your bending yourself into a pretzel. What I like most about them are the looks. They are almost a cross between Adidas Sambas (a classic from my soccer days), and a ninja shoe (called "Tabi"). Most other shoes I have seen with the big toe split out look horribly awkward. Take a look at this website for proof. Yet, somehow the Zem's manage to look a little more "normal." Perhaps it's the neon colored stripes that decorate the side of the shoe, which offer a good distraction from the strange camel toe. Even with these playful colors, I would order the black with black stripes, because I don't want my feet to look like light up billboards. Don't get me wrong it's a clever marketing technique; it's just not my style. The Zem's are pretty slick, but I already have a pair of minimalist running shoes. Do I really need another pair?

Do You Really Need Another Pair of "Barefoot" Shoes?
My Bikilas cost $100 (20 less than my Saucony's - which I can't stand to wear), and I have worn them an insane amount more than any other running sneaker I've ever owned. They remind me of running barefoot as a kid; how I can tread softly and gracefully. They were definitely worth the money. In comparison, the Zem's are only $30, which is an interesting price point. As a small company, it's a good idea to differentiate themselves from Vibram, because competing head to head with them would be a challenge.

All in all, they look cool and the price is great, but I don't think I have a use for them. I do pilates occasionally, and I haven't done yoga since Fall. I would really only need them for running, and I have a great pair for that exact purpose. Zem's blog claims they have a running shoe, but I was unable to find it in their store. Even if I could find it, I would be concerned. How great can a running shoe be for $30? We are so conditioned to see running shoes anywhere from $80 and up how can Zem manage to seem credible at a $30 price point? They only way I see that they could compete for credibility in the running industry is to raise the price a little. But then they have to make sure they add value to the shoe, so customers don't feel ripped off. It's a delicate issue. Bottom line: they look like sweet ninja shoes, but I just don't have a use for them yet. If you do yoga or pilates consistently then you might want to check them out, but I have concerns about the durability and quality of a $30 running shoe.

One more thing, apologies if this comes of as harsh, but I hate when shoe companies don't provide enough angles of the product. How do they expect people to buy a shoe when the only see it from one side! Get a clue from Zappos. They have been doing it right for years, and now they just added videos to most of their shoes. Genius.

For further research on Zem's shoes look at:

Monday, January 10, 2011

Why I Killed the Perfectionist in Me

Practice Makes Perfect
I make mistakes (a lot of mistakes). But, back when I considered myself a perfectionist this was not the case. I avoided doing anything if I couldn't do it just right, and that prevented me from doing a lot. I know now that mistakes are just part of the learning process and the only way that you are going to have success. You need to fail to succeed. This sounds absurdly simple, and I'm sure you've heard it before, but are you using it to your full advantage?

This simple revelation means big things for anyone who wants to be successful. The more you do, the more practice you have at your specific skill, hobby, or career. And with more practice comes a greater likelihood of success. Just ask Malcolm Gladwell. In his book "Outliers" Malcolm talks about how people like Bill Gates and The Beatles got successful by practicing. How much practice you ask? Malcolm claims it takes about 10,000 hours or ten years to become a master. So, what does this mean? If your going to practice that much you better not be afraid to make mistakes, because your going to have a lot of them.

Another key component to success is having a growth mindset (instead of a fixed mindset). Micheal Richard does a wonderful job explaining the difference between the two mindsets in this article, but here is my take.

Which One Sounds More Like You?
A fixed mindset means that you believe that intelligence is static. People with this tendency believe that they are the way they are and that every challenge is an assessment of their skills. They will therefore tend to avoid challenges unless they know they will succeed. As a result they tend to plateau in their success, because they avoid hard tasks where the outcome is uncertain.

A growth mindset on the other hand, means that you believe intelligence is dynamic. People with this tendency believe that the brain is like a muscle and that you can train it to improve. They will therefore embrace challenges, because they will see it as a chance to grow. As a result they tend to reach higher levels of achievement.

My Experience
In my past, I had a fixed mindset. If I was going up against someone in an activity in which I was not good at (let's say basketball), I would be embarrassed, and I wouldn't want to participate. I saw it as an assessment of my skill. By not participating I was missing great opportunities to learn from people who were better than I was. But, after reading Brain Rules and Drive I saw the advantage of changing my mindset. From my experience, this simple switch in thinking has opened up a ton of doors for me. Now, I accept those challenges, and I see them as an opportunity to grow.

You don't have to be perfect, and challenges make you better as long as you are open to growth. These two ideas go hand in hand, with these ideas, you can strip down the barriers to achievement and reach your 2011 goals. This blog isn't perfect, but I'm improving, and that's my goal. Do you have any feedback for me? Any comments or criticism?

Friday, January 7, 2011

Treadmill to Forget the Pain

Why does everyone hate the treadmill? 
Every time I talk to someone about running on a treadmill, I get the same response, "I just don't get a good work out" or "I get too bored." Have you seen treadmills today? They come with over 300 channels and a remote! To be fair, before yesterday, I hadn't run on a treadmill in at least two years. The last time I was on a treadmill was probably back at UNC Charlotte's gym. This was back before I got excited about running, back before I purchased Born to Run or my favorite running shoes of all time - Vibram's Five Finger Bikilas. This was back when I was just working out because my loose college schedule allowed me to. I didn't run because I wanted to, I ran because I thought I should be. Now, I am used to running outside, with the beautiful scenery. I wondered how I would feel running a few miles on the treadmill.

Fatherly Advice on Running
I asked my dad, a fitness nut, his thoughts on the classic treadmill. His response, "From my experience I never get a good workout running on a treadmill. You sweat too much inside, so you feel like you are running harder than you really are." This is true to some degree, but I don't believe that he can't get a good work out (disclosure: my Dad is also not a runner. He is more into the mountain biking scene nowadays). Here's why I don't believe it: Treadmills run at a top speed ten miles an hour. Now, this might not be that fast, but keeping that pace is a six minute mile pace. I don't think I've ever run that fast before. Not only this, but treadmills also have the ability to incline the plane to simulate a hill. Now, if you can run a six minute mile on a 45 degree incline and you think that's a warm up, then you should probably start signing up for some races, because that is impressive. I on the other hand was content with a 7:15 mile pace.

Forget the Pain
My first treadmill experience in a while started off smoothly. I eased in at a 5mph pace to warm up, and then I slowly ramped up the speed. I immediately started to focus my attention forward as to not look like a fool on a treadmill. And what is in front of me? A nice little 8 or 10 inch TV screen. Sports Center - excellent. As, I was running, and watching TV I couldn't help but feel like a lab-rat. You know, the ones who are exercising in their wheels trying to get to the piece of cheese that is dangling just out of their grasp? I wonder if the rats know they are exercising. Maybe they forget; I forgot about running. Not enough to fall off the treadmill, but enough to forget that my body was working pretty hard. There is a strange disconnect between what your body is feeling and your mind is telling you while you run on a treadmill and watch the TV. Your mind says, "Mmm, TV time to relax." But your body is saying, "Hey, wait a minute whats going on? I shouldn't be moving." I think that a big reason for the TVs is so people forget that they are working out. We wouldn't want to feel pain now would we?

Nature's Winter Replacement
I felt it very odd, but it was something I could get used to. Running on the treadmill is NOT a replacement for being outside running through the crisp clean air, but when it's 10 degrees and snowing in Pennsylvania, I'll be just fine using the treadmill.

Ps. No blog about treadmills is complete without out OK Go's video (pictured above) - Link here

Thursday, January 6, 2011

How to Cook Collard Greens like a Brazilian

I hate collard greens. In fact, if you had told me last year that I was not only going to cook, but I was going to enjoy them too - I would have laughed in your face. Don't get me wrong, I love a good salad, but something about reducing greens down to mush is not appetizing to me.

Out of Your Food Comfort Zone
One of the benefits of not eating any grains is that you are forced to experiment with different sources for carbohydrates. Vegetables become a main player in your diet and not just the sidekick. Eating paleo allows you to discover a whole new world of foods. Maybe it was just me, but I found that when I was eating a high carb diet (mostly whole-grain) I little to no tolerance for vegetables. I just didn't care to eat them. Now, I get giddy over seeing something wildly new to me like bok choy.

Collard greens was a stretch for me too, but I was excited about trying something new. My question was: how in the world do you cook these if you don't want them to turn into mush? Enter Brazilian style collard greens. I found this deliciously simple recipe on Here is the long list of ingredients for the dish:

1 1/4lb collard greens
3 garlic cloves
1 tbs of olive oil

A Delicious Brazilian Secret
Simple, so what's the secret? The secret lies in the method of cutting the leaves. First you trim the center rib from the leaves, then you stack them on top of each other, roll them and slice ever so thinly (a cooking technique called chiffonade). Because you are slicing the leaves so thin this allows them to cook much faster then normal. The cooking part of the dish only takes three minutes, which is ridiculous because other recipes would have you cooking collard greens for around an hour.

My Thoughts on the Recipe
The outcome of this simple Brazilian technique: The best collard greens I've ever had. Granted I haven't had that many versions, but the flavor and texture of this dish was much different than then others I had in the past. Taking out the center rib is another fantastic tip that will make your collard greens taste better. If you remove the rib before you start cooking, you'll have more of the tasty leaf and less of the crunchy flavorless rib.

Props to for this delicious recipe, and if a northern guy can make it, than anyone can. Here is a link to the recipe, and here is a link the video (which is really helpful). Happy cooking!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Why I'll No Longer Run Blind

I tested out my dad's prehistoric heart rate monitor last night. It actually worked pretty well. It was an old Polar monitor. How old you ask? Old enough to be made in Finland and not China or India.

Testing Out a Heart Rate Monitor
This particular monitor had a chest strap and also a watch.  You have to wet (lick) the sensors to activate them, and then you place the strap right under your chest. The watch can go anywhere, since it does not measure your heart rate.

Just from putting the device on my heart rate jumped up to 72 and then 80 beats per minute. This is pretty cool. It almost made me excited to go run in the cold. I also used my dad's mountain biking flashlight (one that attaches to your head). I can only image what the neighbors thought as I ran by with a dozen electronics stuck to me.

I'm still missing not having a great place to run. Running up and down my neighborhood isn't cutting it, but for now it would have to do. I made sure all my straps were tightened, and I bolted down the street turning left and up the hill. I ran about 70% of my max effort and when I made it to the top of the hill I had a pretty good burn in my legs. The heart rate monitor read 160 - which for me is my aerobic zone. Success! Now, I know approximately how hard I have to run to get into the aerobic zone.

Getting Started with Your Heart Rate Zones
I used this website to calculate your heart rate zones. It also does a great job of explaining why you should train with one. The short answer is that the heart rate monitor is an easy way to track your progress. You may think that you are pushing yourself, but the heart rate monitor won't lie to you (as long as your put it on right).

I am going to continue to test out how hard I think I'm working and compare it to my actual heart rate. With out the monitor you can gauge your intensity on mileage, or speed, but I have no way of tracking these things. So, I'll continue to use the Polar device until I can find a replacement. I would really like to have this Garmin 305 watch. The features look awesome, and it got great reviews from people who have bought it from Amazon. I think I'm just a geek for statistics. Check out this photo...

I think it would be really cool to see your runs plotted out on a map. You can also track your heart rate, speed, and so much more. It is pretty bulky though. I definitely would not wear this out anywhere that I wasn't running with it. I think it's only a matter of time before I get something fancy to track my progress. But for now, the Polar heart rate monitor will do.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The One Thing My Paleo Diet Hasn't Fixed

Paleo We have a Problem
Over the past 56 days since I've gone paleo I've had a lot of nice things to say about it, but I must confess one thing that has been bothering me. I have headaches, and I don't know why. I never had problems with headaches before, so it's strange for me to get them now. But clearly, it is something I am eating or doing that is making me feel this way. Most people will admit a lack of energy or headaches during the adaptation period (first month or so), but I have certainly given my body plenty of time to adjust to this diet.

Where to Research Paleo Questions
I ventured over to PaleoHacks which is a great website. It is a community powered website where people post questions and other people post there responses and experiences with the question at hand. I love this spin on the typical forum. It is easy to navigate, easy to post and more importantly clean looking. Sometimes trying to read typical forum websites can be daunting because there is so much text. Paleohacks has a fantastic and aesthetically pleasing design. Kudos! Now, on to my problem. These headaches are really bothering me, and I can't pinpoint the cause. After searching for "Headaches" I found a number of responses.

Possible Reasons for Headaches
As reported by the community (yes, some are common sense):

  • Cheese
  • Caffeine
  • Dehydration
  • Too much protein without enough fat
  • Nuts
  • Nitrates (cured meats)
  • Lack of sleep
  • Too much stress

Personal Experimentation
Since lack of sleep and too much stress are not an issue, I am going to focus on my water intake while limiting my caffeine and nut intake as well. I downed a whole jar or cashew butter in the last few days - it's just too delicious, and it's the closest I can get to peanut butter.

I really want to be able to fully endorse this diet lifestyle, but unless I can figure out what is causing these headaches I am going to hold back on the recommendation. Is anyone else experiencing headaches from a transition to a paleo diet? For more on headaches see the resources below.


Monday, January 3, 2011

How to Make Life Easier... The Hard Way

I pushed myself further up the hill, digging in deeper, trying to keep a quick cadence. I thought about my New Years Resolution a few years ago (to take more risks). I had done so, but I still had a long way to go to get out of my comfort zone. I realized that I was finally pushing myself out of it on this run through the park. I was breathing hard, my legs were aching, my face was numb from the cold. Exercise is a really easy way to get yourself out of your own comfort zone. Usually, you are pushing yourself to do better and better which involves you inching out further and further from what make your feel comfortable.

The big take away from this is that once you have pushed yourself harder and further than before it is much easier to do things - anything. Paradoxically, the harder you push yourself in life, the easier it becomes. Or at least the easier everything below it becomes. Think of life as a video game. Everything is harder the more levels you go up, but you yourself become bigger, better, faster, stronger, and then when you look back, the first few levels seem like a joke.

If you stack all of the activities on your to do list in order of difficulty. Then you knock out the hardest one on the list. The other ones are going to seem like a piece of cake. This is not only true with activities from the same category (example: after you run a marathon a 5k is easy). I believe that you can benefit from pushing yourself in other categories. What I'm saying is that the category is not quite as important as the difficulty (example: after you run a marathon, everything task you value as easier than a marathon become not only easier but achievable). Since you pushed yourself to accomplish something hard, you know you can achieve other successes. The harder you push, the more you can accomplish (even in other areas of life).

My main take away
Try pushing yourself outside your comfort zone. Then you might realize that things you once thought were hard may become a little easier.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Testing out the Nesco FD-75PR Food Dehydrator

My first test run with the Nesco Food Dehydrator (thanks Mom Santa) was a success. I sliced some pears that our family received for Christmas. They were from Harry & David, and they in the most ridiculous packaging ever. Imagine a treasure chest with a secret compartment in the bottom. It was pretty impressive.

The preparation for dehydrating was easy. I cut the pears into 3/8in slices and tossed them on the drying racks. They also recommend that you toss the fruit in a solution to avoid excess oxidation and loss of nutrients, but I didn't do it (tisk tisk).

For fruit, it explains to set the dial at 135 degrees - great. But for how long? The directions say "5-16 hours" - no joke. I ended up leaving them in over night, because I didn't feel like waking up at 4am to turn off my Food Dehydrator. I guess that's what I get for purchasing one without a timer.

The dried pears themselves were delicious. They weren't perfect by any means, and I could definitely take a couple hours off the drying time. But they were sweet and tasty. I placed them in a plastic zip-lock, and they lasted a week before my family ate them all.

Tonight, I decided to give mangoes a shot. Mangoes are delicious, and they happen to be my Dad's favorite. So, I decided to make him a treat. First, I had to watch a video to see how to properly cut a mango (thank YouTube). In this video, Chef Allen Susser does a great job explaining concisely how to select and cut a mango. Again, the preparation is easy just slice and place (solution is not recommended for mangoes). Now, I play the waiting game.

All in all, I've been happy with my Nesco Food Dehydrator. It is simple (no on/off switch or timer), easy to clean, and it can hold a heck of a lot of food (with four or five racks). It will take some time, and also trial and error to get the hang for how long to dehydrate certain foods. I figure it will kind of be like using a microwave for the first time. At first, you go by the directions on how long to cook your food. Then, after you've had enough use with the product you just get an idea of how long a food will need based on it's temperature and density. Which means... more experiments!