Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Breaking Fast (Practicing What I Preach)

Right-ee-o, so sometimes I don't really practice what I preach. I've mentioned that prolonged fasting is perhaps not a great habit for the ladies but I still go ahead and do it myself. Fail.

Fine, the theory behind it is great, that it will give the body time to heal and clean up a few inflammations, but women are different hormonal creatures compared to men, so will react differently. In this case, pappa was just fine in dealing with any lingering hunger pangs, whereas the two ladies involved developed some pretty severe grumpiness (am surprised pappa still has a head on his shoulders). Like PMS for a week. Without the resolution.

So that part of the experiment ended this morning. The family is going back to having breakfast 10-15 hours post-dinner, with the window reflecting what feels natural to the women in the family.

The rest of the experiment is still on though! The middle finger is feeling rather sprightly at the moment, so maybe it is doing some good, after all.

The herring is in there somewhere

Monday, 26 May 2014

The Lowdown on Tweak Week

As mentioned in my previous posts, I've decided to tweak my diet to see if it has any effect on what I suspect may be the start of osteoarthritis. Although a week is by no means a long enough time to tell if I can delay onset of full-blown osteoarthritis in a decade or so, I have already noticed a few interesting things.

My fingers feel better, but still feel a bit swollen in the morning. I use my hands for various gardening tasks that I am not entirely used to yet, so the lingering stiffness could be a result of that.

Food-wise, I have been completely compliant with one exception. For pappa's birthday, I made chocolate mousse with cream and dark chocolate (and eggs and orange peel, if you must know, and it was absolutely divine). I probably had the equivalent of 50 ml of cream and 20 g of chocolate, so not a huge amount. But I woke up with a slightly painful middle finger the next morning. Who knows, I might have been busy sleep-walking and giving the neighbours the finger, but my guess goes with the dairy. I am steering clear until my cousin's wedding in two weeks to do another experiment (assuming that cream is served, that is!).

Fasting for 16-18 hours, ie between an early dinner and a late breakfast/ early lunch feels ok, energy-wise. Going for walks, sprinting, working out and gardening before breakfast went well, although the heavier exercises were perhaps a bit slower than usual. Also, there were some issues with crankiness before brunch was served up, so perhaps 15 is the sweet spot. Or maybe maybe it's a matter of getting used to.

I have lost a bit of weight, around a kilo. Obviously, eating twice or at most three times a day will do that to you. Especially since my sweet/ snacking tooth disappeared with the dairy fairy. However, I still weigh more than I've ever weighed in my life, just 6 kg less than pappa (ah, the awesomeness of working out less and still adding muscle...).

I have a funny taste in my mouth, but I guess that is the usual early sign of ketosis.

I had some skin blemishes that disappeared within the first two days.

My belly is happy. Enough said.

So overall I'd say it's well worth prolonging the experiment to see how things develop. Luckily, both my parents are extremely indulgent, happily joining in the intermittent fasting and phasing out all non-organic meats and vegetables. I'm impressed with their patience. :-)

Friday, 23 May 2014

Cheek to Cheek

We finally made it to Lindegrens yesterday and stocked up on proper meat to last us for a few weeks. Among the slightly more weird and wonderful cuts was pig's cheek. Given Lindegrens organic/ grass-fed profile, the meat is pretty expensive, but this cut was on the affordable side. Happy days!

As per David Lindegren's suggestion, I went for a slow-cooked, rolled up cheek. I spread an herb/lemon/sundried tomato concoction evenly on both and rolled them up as tightly as I could.

The cheeks looked like this after 3 hours at 100 degrees, followed by 45 minutes of 175 to brown them.

They tasted great, but were a bit on the fatty side, meaning that one unlucky person got a huge amount of fat and not too much meat. I figure I'll try some ox cheek next time around to avoid the fat overload, especially since pork fat tends to have an unfavourable omega 3 & 6 balance.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Nature Calling

Happy feet, freed from their shoe prison
Week 3 in the office and I keep longingly looking out the window at the lush green trees across the road. I feel a deep desire to be outside with some fresh grass under my feet. I recently read about “earthing” or “grounding” on some paleo forums and dismissed it as a fad, but now I am not so sure. I think I need to listen to my inner voice calling for some time touching green stuff to counterbalance all the time spent in an office. I go outside each lunchtime and I have started walking around barefoot in the garden on my evening inspection. It remains to be seen if this has any noticeable effect on my health or my sleep, but I am sure it will have an effect on my mood.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Tweak Week

The first day of anti-osteoarthritis week (or month or year, we'll see) went well.

I started off my day with an 8 am run, workout and walk. I haven't really done much training since I left Höö, so I figured it was time to get going again. Yikes. Five rounds of box jumps (thank you officer M), pull-up negatives, overhead squats (log included) and sit-ups left me pretty tired but satisfied.

This is where the fun began. Because after this, we all went straight to the garden to start a two hour session of digging. Let's just say things went pretty slowly, given that the sun was cranking up the heat by 9 and we were starting to get hungry... There was some whining (no names divulged, but it wasn't me) before we finally sat down for brunch at 11:30. Given that I've pledged to give up non-organic meat (no bacon for a while... oh the hardship), I went for a slightly odd breakfast option of salad, eggs and herring. Oh, and mamma's green smoothie made of weeds. :-)

Swedish Midsummer come early
Instead of the usual breakfast chaser of "egg latte" and nut & seed crackers with butter, I had two cups of egg latte with some additional coconut oil to set me up for more garden work.
Heaven in a mug
After the initial slo mo moments this morning, the rest of the day in the garden felt like any other day, i.e. pretty energetic. The bikini weather may contributed to it...

By the time 5 pm rolled around, we were all starting to feel a bit peckish, so we cobbled together some dinner. Given my self-imposed meat restriction, I had to dig through the pantry to find some more fish, this time tuna.
Tuna salad, crudités and Jerusalem artichokes (with a LOT of ghee and coconut oil added) 
Dinner was finished by 6 pm and given that we've got a few things to do before brunch tomorrow, we're probably looking at an 18 hour fast. I've said it before, more extreme fasting is probably not that great for women, so I will definitely not want to make that too much of a habit. Also, the point of  this particular exercise is not to lose weight (or get cranky), so I will want to limit it to 16 hours on most days.

Progress report to follow!

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Tweak Tweak

Yup, time to make another tweak to the way I eat. As some of you will know, the resistant starch experiment is well underway. A few tablespoons of potato starch, the odd cold or grated raw potato, a bit of green banana, bigger helpings of raw cabbage/ beet root/ carrot, etc, etc. Sleep quality has been extremely good some weeks, then a bit intermittent. It seems like my belly needs a bit of time to adjust though, with unusual smells (euphemism of the day) and less regular bowel movements (there, I said it), but energy levels seem to have improved, so I will keep it up.

Anyhow, I am now considering making further tweaks as I think I am starting to develop what a number of my female relatives suffer from: osteoarthritis. The joints in my fingers have been a bit stiff and slightly painful a few mornings in a row. I have found myself shying away from shaking hands too firmly (oh how I hate limp handshakes...). I noticed my left hand feeling a bit weak while tying my shoe laces after a long cold walk. Sure, I have been using my hands A LOT more (milking is an interesting movement for office hands), but this development still worries me. Hence I've decided to make a few tweaks to how I eat to reduce inflammation and boost cell repair for my joints in particular:

  • Fasting between early dinner and lunch the next day (should make 17-18 hours of fasting)
  • Increased intake of organic vegetables and collagen-rich bone broth
  • Focus on grass fed meats & ghee as well as organic eggs and fatty fish for protein (or go without...)
  • Strict avoidance of nuts/ seeds/ seed oils, all dairy (apart from ghee), alcohol, grains and sugar
  • Continue taking extra vitamin D and fish oil, add in a bit of turmeric
  • Focus on other sources than potatoes for resistant starch

I know these are a lot of tweaks at the same time, but I figure I should throw everything I've got at it. Then I can always reintroduce some things at a later date to check if there is one particular trigger.


Thursday, 15 May 2014

First Reflections on Returning to Work

I haven't written any blog posts lately, as I have been focused on mentally and practically preparing myself to return to work. Now that I have been back at work for two weeks I want to share some initial observations:

1. There is a dress code in our office, which for example states that open-toe sandals are not allowed.  I have now noticed is that there is also an unwritten rule: you must wear at least one piece of clothing that is either black or grey (for men, a dark blue suit is also acceptable). I had completely forgot how dark and gloomy officewear is, although a look in my closet would have told me so. In order to cheer myself up, I add at least one bit of colour to my outfit every day. The easiest way is definitely by wearing my bright orange flats. They make me smile when I walk around the grey office.
Obligatory black trousers, paired with orange flats
2. Office workers eat a lot of junk food. People snack all the time and there are cakes everywhere. So far there has not been a day when there hasn’t been some cake lurking nearby. I am determined not to get (back) into bad habits, so I bring in a packed lunch and have coffee with cream if I fancy anything in between meals. 
Today’s excellent lunch was a tin of tuna in olive oil, a hardboiled egg, chard from our garden, sauerkraut, tomato and a bit of chopped up chorizo. So filling! But I have a slight suspicion that it may have smelled a bit. Hehe.

3. Chronic cardio, as coined by Mark Sisson, is alive and kicking in London. A few people in my team manage to squeeze in two gym sessions a day several times a week. I have a feeling that point 2 may be hindering progress somewhat. I hold my tongue about these observations and do the 'nod and smile' thing, as I don't want the discussion about food and exercise at the moment. I still need to work on my arguments against 'everything in moderation'. 

Sunday, 11 May 2014

One Last WWOOF

Today is my last day at Höö. It's been intense! My body is clearly in need of a few days rest, but my head has definitely had three weeks off. Hard labour and fits of tired giggles are a great remedy for that last bit of office-itis. To be honest, I DO miss my London friends, but I don't miss any other part of my old life at all. Funny, who knew I'd feel so happy clearing out manure in a barn?

Unable to contain my excitement ahead of barn duty

Friday, 9 May 2014

Thrift (Or How I Gagged Over Rotten Goose Eggs)

One of the ultra aggressive geese laid a few too many eggs (like 20 extra...), so we got a whole bucket full of them to eat.
Mother goose got carried away
The only caveat was that they've been lying around for a while. This meant spending half an hour sorting the stinky ones from the fresh ones. More than once I felt the gag reflex kicking in, aargh, when yet another egg cracked to reveal ready-made scrambled egg. But I persevered and made it through the stinky mess to create pretty decent scrambled eggs with cheese and salad for the gang:

As thrifty as I'd like to be, I have to admit it'll be a while before I do this again. And someone else gets to empty the bucket of discarded egg shells on the manure heap, please. I'd like to take a looooong hot shower now. 

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Reverse Ageing

I swear I'm reverse ageing - mentally... Hanging out with boys and animals (interchangeable?!) really brings out the child in me. And in my fellow farmhands:
Writing the shopping list quickly turned into...
A spontaneous dance to Happy, including an air guitar solo by Krille
There are fortunately no pictures or audio files of me belting out the middle son's version of Gangnam Style ("Hey sexy laaaaaaater") in a rainy potato field. Mamma and pappa might not want me back then.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Having My Portrait Made

K2 is a bit of a creative soul, so when the mistress of the big house asked him to make a scarecrow, he threw himself into the project. Creative counsel was kindly provided by the middle son:

Five years old and already too cool for school
The end result was truly scary, a mix of Templar knight, mighty carrot and killer bee. 

That is not hair on top. It is a golden helmet. 
Apparently I was the model for it. 

Saturday, 3 May 2014

Bouncing Off the Hills

I wasn't going to do it, but then the fresh pack of organic coffee appeared on the steps, as if planted there by the caffeine fairy, so I made some. First coffee for two weeks, with fresh cream from Doris. (I was naughty and took most of the upper part of the milk, ie the cream... Heh, heh.)

Mine on the left, K2's on the left 
Me and the new wwoofer, Kristoffer (K #2), sat on the porch and talked about my favourite thing in the world (apart from my niece): clean eating. Poor thing. He couldn't get the lady to shut up, could he? Anyhow, by the end of it, he claimed to be a convert. It lasted until dinner time, when K1 and K2 shared a loaf of bread made by the mistress of the big house (I'm the mistress of the small house, no doubt). Oh well, they'll come around. I've promised them six-packs. 

The great thing about our coffee break was the insane boost I got from it. I actually started trotting around and ended up spontaneously sprinting up a hill. Great reason to pick up my coffee habit again.  Good thing only the cows could see me.