Thursday, April 23, 2009

Chronic CRONing

Egypt trip was exceptional in many ways from sights, sounds, and spices. Luxor's archaelogical sites were for the most part remained intact and retained it's grandeur despite its years and of course the looting that went on for so long and probably still going. The best buys are Egyptian cotton. Wow! Sleeping in 1000-thread count sheets is like sleeping on clouds! The towels feel like cocoon especially when it's cold getting out of the shower.

Ahhh... I've learned quite a few things ever since tracking calories, nutrients at the same time noting the effects it has on my overall mental, physical and spiritual well-being. I got the hang of using the several software for tracking calories/nutrients and after three weeks I just know how much I'm ingesting. I tend to over estimate which is good I suppose. It just got so tedious tracking daily when I could be experimenting with new recipes in my kitchen or writing about CRON-ictivities :)

I do think that doing something chronically just bores me so what I've ultimately done and is working beautifully and magically is keeping an average of calories per week. I eat anywhere from a low 500 and my max has been 1800. Even when we were on holidays, I ate far less than usual because when I'm busy with activities eating just kind of slips from my mind. BTW, I got into golf and golf kind of took over ;) I also do intermittent fasting during the week this means when I do it's completely unplanned. I let my body be my guide. I like those days because I can go on and on without having to stop and think of food. Once I'm done with my fast, I prepare a lavish, luxurious meal replete with ambiance, atmosphere, as well as aesthetics pulling no stops to whatever my eyes, ears and tastebuds fancy. Again lavish and luxurious mean something different to anyone. For me it's about creating a mood from how my food looks, to listening to music my ears want to luxuriate in and pleasing my palate with a raw gourmet feast. This is whether I'm alone or with company. A lifestyle of feasting and fasting can co-exist like yin/yang and so fulfilling on many different levels.

That's my rendition of the art of simplicity to doing CRON without being chronic about it. I will discuss this in more detail with later posts about doing something with too much consistency takes the fun and adventure out of living and makes me yawn. Surely don't want to pass on the yawn virus.

This current system works for me right now. I've been experimenting with different ways of eating, exercising and existing (always with something that excites me) for a very very long time so what works for me might not work for some.

I'll post about new things I add, integrate, delete, take out of my daily divine & delectable dining adventures as well as other things I do.

Okay, since adopting CRON, I went down about three pounds the last time I checked but then pounds don't really weigh on my mind (no pun intended) as I'm very happy with my physique. Height 5'5, weight between 110-114 with body fat percentage between 15-18 depending on the season sometimes time of the month. It's been consistently like this for years. I like having muscle definitions and not necessarily going for skinny rather more on the shapely side of things. CRON for me is just another way of putting more value to my daily nutrition. With the CRON tools, it really put the finishing touches to daily micro-macro nutrients etc. What I've noticed is that I just know when I'm not getting enough of certain nutrients. Once I start plugging in, there it is-my magnesium might be too low or way too much of something or other. The way I know is I start craving things that I've not eaten since time immemorial. As I've said, I eat no grains, legumes, simple and refined sugars and I'm high raw (flesh food are mostly sashimi or carpaccio). This can be challenging when traveling because of hygiene levels vary from country to country. Again, I don't stress over this as I'm not religious about it nor do I consider myself anal Annie. I will eat the cooked veges now and then especially when we are invited or certain restaurants who don't cater to raw Paleo etc.

Now on to exercise. My two to three intense workouts a week are always in a fully fasted state meaning I have not had anything to eat except water for anywhere between 12 to 24 hours sometimes more. Some of you might think woohoo that's too hard. Let me tell you nothing could be better than working out on a completely empty stomach. My breakfast are always varied but I do a bit of something prior to eating breakfast either doing my twice or three times weekly of hard core muscle work with short intervals of very high intensity not lasting more than 30 minutes. I go for a 30 min to an hour walk with my Max (our Golden Retriever) or doing a 4 to 10 minutes of Tabata Training (I do my own version which is 50 sec. exercise and 10 sec. rest see This is a great way to get short bursts of intense activity that burns fat and so very effective. I don't do long cardio sessions as I believe this to be a total waste of time. I've gone this route and all I got for it was well loss of time. I do something physical each day and it always varies but it always has an element of fun whether it's intense weight training, dancing, hiking, sprinting, climbing trees even swinging on monkey bars and now I've added golf to my repertoire. I'm always trying something new to keep things fresh and alive!

I'm just as lean now as when I was doing cardio and exercising almost every day. Get off the those treadmills, cross trainers and whatever machines. High Intensity HIT as it's referred to is way more effective and keeps you burning fat throughout the day esp. if you exercise on a fasted state. The advantage is that you do it in less time, more fun because it's not tedious and you feel absolutely fabulous not spent post exercise. Doing long exercise sessions just stresses the body too much and not a life enhancing choice in my opinion. If you notice in most gyms, the ones that are constantly on the cardio machines don't look all that great. I won't even get started on marathons. Remember from the Greek Mythology, the first man who finished the marathon died in the end. That should be a learning lesson.

f you do some serious weight training you will be gasping for breath and to boot working many different muscle groups at the same time. Most people have no idea or have never ever experienced what real weight training is all about. If it's done right, it's one of the most powerful tool for vitality and staying youthful but it has to be done with high enough intensity and not chronically.

This is something that I've learned on a Paleo lifestyle. Think about it, when did our ancestors really go out and say "oh my it's time for me to do my daily grind of running around the forest to get rid of this extra blubber." They wouldn't have any blubber because they didn't have the luxury of eating to their heart's content. Eating is a serious matter; it could mean life or death. They had to forage for food and sometimes a risky activity where moving really fast is a must so as not to become some predator's snack attack. I'm not saying that we should all go back to living this way but mimicking the types of activities they did which was very varied as well as how they ate could alleviate some of the ill effects of modern lifestyle.

I've kind of droned on a bit here but I just want you to know where I'm coming from.

Some of you have emailed or inquired about doing CRON in France the land of food and recently freedom fries are consumed with much gusto. France is the 8th country I've lived in so actually this is not at all challenging despite all the supposedly temple of temptations that surround me. Of course, when they notice that I order two big servings of salads as an entree and main dish, then the questions start flying.

France is healthier than say the U.S. or the U.K. but I wouldn't say they are altogether healthy esp. the younger generation. Sadly, they have adopted the fast food lifestyle. Obesity are on the rise and from what I'm seeing lately, they're shooting in the dark still because the recommendations will not make a dent on the fat stats. There is such a huge gap in eating habits between the older and younger generation. This is partly of course with mass media influence and things coming into France a lot quicker than before such as all those fake and franken foods that the French are integrating quickly into their daily habits.

I will sign off for now. Will try to spice things up next time with more spring news from my side of the world. Oh yeah! The veges and fruits selection has certainly put a big smile on my face. My favorite tomato vendor is back after a very long cold absence. Tomorrow is market day in our village and it's suppose to be a sunny spring day. I look forward to seeing more familiar faces now that spring has sprung. I'm looking forward to the raspberries and blueberries lady. She's a character this one. When I look at her, I know the berries I'm eating have been loved and given much TLC ;) They are sooooo good! Words don't do justice to how good they taste.

Cheerios and bonne nuit all you beautiful souls!


Thursday, April 2, 2009

Poisson d'Avril

It's April Fools in French. I saw this show on television about a new food trend called LE SPACE FOOD aka astronaut chow. They showed these tin foiled packaged foods that you nuke with flavors such as chicken provencal, vegetable soup etc. There were some typical and traditional French fare and a more Frenchified version of Macaroni & Cheese. They even invited the most celebrated French nutritionist to analyze the nutritional value of each package. Imagine the scene where this whole family chowing down on this liquified gooey food against the serene backdrop of their cosy dining room. The show wanted to make it appear that this is really the current trend and showed an entrepeneur who started importing these fabricated foods from the U.S. via NASA. In the end it was a joke but wait they actually got inquiries in where one can purchase these fake food. The French are switching gears and they want their food faster than you can say freedom fries ;)

Many friends and people I encounter ask me how I can live in the land of food and follow a regimented diet (regimented is really relative). People have this notion that you come to France and you will gorge yourself on foie gras, cheese, croissants and chocolates not to mention the beloved baguette. The French for the most part especially the ones who live outside big cities still eat and live with the season. This means that foie gras is only eaten during the Holidays, and not everyone eats crusty flaky croissants daily for breakfast. Here's an old French secret... The older French (over 75 yrs old) many of them have very little breakfast or skip it altogether. They have their tea, or black coffee and maybe a fruit and that's it until lunch. Lunch is the big meal of the day and dinner is usually light; a soup and salad or sometimes just soup. No wonder France has one of the highest population of octagenarians despite their fatty foods. But these fatty foods are from real food not margarine or some low fat, nuked and pasteurized/packaged foods. Some of these older generations have lived through one or two world wars. They tell me stories of how they had barely anything to eat during the war. Some were so traumatized they won't eat turnips and parsnips because it reminds them so much of the war. I'm always fascinated when I spent a lot of time with French people who are in what they call their third or fourth age (60 and beyond).

What's interesting among the seniors I've met who stay vital and not incapacitated most have always had some form of physical activity. One lady I meet and have tea with, walks at least 2 miles a day. I thought she was in her late 60's turns out she's in her mid 80's. None that I came across ever did any extreme or high intensity sports. Most walk, bike, garden in short, they just kept on moving rain, snow or shine.

So fellow CRONies, if one was to conduct a study on French longevity, specifically the ones who manage to stay healthy, independent and free from illnesses with all their mental acuity intact, I wonder if years of calorie restriction from surviving wars and food shortages kicked their cells into repair and regenerate mode for an important portion of their life. I'm not saying that all older French people are this way but I've come across plenty of them because we live in a region where there is a huge portion of the population who are beyond the age of 70 and lead very vital lives. The traditional French culture is slowly disappearing hence the double digit increase of obesity and chronic illnesses in the last two decades.

Thought that it might be interesting to share some of my French impressions about food and lifestyle. I will write more on this as I go along because the way the traditional French eat can be a great lesson in moderation and appreciation of food, flavor and taste-discerning decadence.

Back to my CRON/Raw/Paleo/IF mode. I was busy yesterday a.m. so did not have breakfast and was not hungry. When I do my IF, it's usually when I'm busy and food is a non-issue because of several things, I either ate later than usual the night before, or simply not hungry. I also like to be in a completely fasted state when I exercise in the morning and after exercise I like to wait at least an hour or two before I eat or sometimes I just wait until around noon. I like to hydrate lots in the morning with water and green tea.

By around noon, I whipped up some rawlicious spicy Thai wraps. Made from purple cabbage, ginger, bird's eye chilis, a bit of almond butter, lemon, a dash of agave nectar and mix everything in the food processor. I then use romaine lettuce leaves as wraps then topped it off with shredded carrots, bits of mint leaves, basil, coriander and slivers of ripe mango. I had a couple of wraps then followed up with my endive, grapefruit, apple, shredded carrots and pomegranate salad with a about 15 grams of chopped up walnuts added a dash of apple cider vinegar.

It was a gorgeous spring day so went for a long walk with sprinting and uphill runs with my dog. I felt really good. My mind and body were humming a sweet tune. Finished my packing and preparing for our upcoming trip to Egypt. I'm so excited to see the pyramids and spend some downtime on the beach. The Red Sea is suppose to have one of the most magnificent array of sea creatures. Looking forward to swimming and snorkeling alas sunshine loads. We've had a very long winter with lots of wet and cold days. Definitely get extra doses of vitamin D.

I snacked on a few of my home made dehydrated vegetable crackers with a bit of raw goat's cheese while I prepped my main and last meal of the day which was around 4 p.m. I made a huge salad. When I make my salad it's industrial size had 175 grams of greens; arugula, mesclun and kale. I love love greens all kinds. I like it super raw and crunchy. Can't appreciate greens that's been cooked esp. spinach yuck yuck! It was a pretty salad-I bought these giant tomatoes called heart of beef because they are huge and bright red! I added some endives, a bit of broccoli and cauliflower spruced it up with some sprouts. I steamed about 200 grams of organic salmon. A bit of balsamic, and a tablespoon of hemp oil, I sprinkled some shredded seaweeds instead of using salt then a bit of lemon juice. I just chopped up the salmon and put it right in with the rest of the salad. I enjoyed every mouth watering bite. Of course, I can't resist not sharing a sliver and a slice with our beloved magnificent M. The only dog I know who barks for broccoli ;) He eats his five servings of vegetables a day!

I had some avocados that were getting really ripe so I had to figure out what to make with them. I just made a batch of guacamole last weekend so that's out. I thought I'd make something decadent so I made my miam miam mousse au chocolat. I just blend the avos with carob powder with a bit of raw cacao powder, some water (I also use my home made almond milk or hazelnut milk) to keep it moving, hazelnut butter or any butter I happen to have on hand (a little goes a long way. I just use to put more nutty flavor), I sometimes use agave nectar, stevia or date paste again a little goes a long way. I blend blend until I get the consistency I want. Chill and serve. Once it's chilled the nutty and chocolatey fudgey flavor comes out better. I usually eat about 1 big spoonful for my decadent dessert which is about 25-30 grams. That's it and my sweet tooth is satisfied. After being raw for quite some time, I don't appreciate the taste of most desserts esp. the ones from refined sugar. I find them sickly sweet. The only sweets I eat are the ones I make or if it's raw desserts. Most of my desserts are fruits.

Please note I did not put amounts of the ingredients I listed above. I'll prepare a separate section with recipes because I want to share lots of them with you. Once I get use to going beyond posting ;) Learning curves...

Sleep is so very sweet when I'm not stuffed. That's why I like to eat early enough so that when my head hits the pillow which is usually around 10 or 10:30 p.m. I'm off to dream land zzzzzz.... Didn't wake-up until 7ish feeling so refreshed. I'll post more on why it's important to give the body as much space between eating and sleeping so the growth hormones can kick in to repair and rejuvenate the body while we rest.

I don't use an alarm. The only alarm I use are the church bells from the village chapel. When this bell rings I know I really had a long sleep! During spring and summer, bird chirping becomes my alarm clock.

Hasta la pasta for now. I'm brewing some ginger tea with orange flower blossoms and verveine. Thi is so nice and smells like heaven :)

Until my next post!


Monday, March 30, 2009

Primary Post

I've been living the CRONlicious life for over a week now. It's going really great :) I would like to emphasize fabulous!!! It's a whole new way of looking, feeling and thinking about food. I always like to change and switch the way I do things especially around food and anything that I do with my mind and body. Food that we eat is just one kind of food but I consider other factors in life are like food in that it can provide a different form of nourishment and just as important just not the kind you chew or put in your mouth. I will expand on this more later on...

I would like to share my experiences, findings and thoughts as well as results from my newly adopted CRON, Raw, whole foods, Paleo regime. As I said I like to mix things a bit and this is what I've come up with lately. Using the CRONometer helped me realize my past mistakes and challenges all within a matter of a week and a few days. Of course with insights from reading plenty of CRON-ers or ies (still not sure what the terminology is???) I'm starting to get the why's, how's and what's of my previous dietary choices.

Almost all the blogs that are health, diet and fitness related that I went and read gave me tremendous insights and more knowledge as to what can potentially work for me long term. I also discovered a few new interpretation on what constitutes health and what some consider balance.

There was one phrase I read somewhere that someone advocating balance just means they lack self-control. These days balance equates having a day or moments where one eats indiscrimanately and not think about calories, bad fats and weight gain. It can also mean not worrying or thinking about the consequences of our choices. Is it healthy to step on the scale of balance??? I can only speak for myself of course because it's all a matter of control. There it goes control. Can balance and control co-exist in the world of food and calorie choices? What can our primal insticts drive us to do or become? When is it necessary to listen to those primal drives and when is it a good idea to soothe or appease it or order it to shut up and vanish at least for the time being?

Just some of the questions that popped in my head as I write my first post. I'm sure I'll come up with more as I go through more blogs.

I'm a newbie with blog posting will refine as I go along.

Well, with regard to food intake, a switch from Paleo High Raw lifestyle and integrating CRON was not much of a stretch. Once I started plugging in food into the COM, I was actually surprised that it came out pretty low. When I ate out, I usually plug the estimates on the high side to make room for those hidden calories they put in restaurant food. I started on St. Patty's Day. I love green and indeed can eat about a pound of the stuff a day so fittingly enough I started CRON on Green day :)

The highest calorie intake since I started COM ten days ago, was 1500 and to a low of 700+. What I do though is really not try and achieve the same amount of calories each day because I also practice IF (Intermittent Fasting). I find that when I exercise esp. in the morning, I prefer to be in a fasted state for at least 12 hours or more at times depending on mood and energy levels. What's really interesting is seeing what vits and mins I lack on a consistent basis based on most foods I eat. I experiment by varying different kinds of vegetables, fruits, nuts etc. The only thing I eat cooked are flesh foods. This has taken some time to get used to ever since adopting Paleo. I was raw vegan for a few years. The first few attempts at eating flesh food, I felt really ill. I'm still coming up quite low on the protein department but remedying this by adding more raw cheese. This is of course goes against the grain of the Paleo ideology but I don't have any reactions to dairy so I use it as a condiment to balance out my nutrients. I also don't eat any form of grains and legumes. On occassion, I eat quinoa usually sprouted but quinoa is really a seed and no gluten as well high in protein.

I have cut back on fruits because when I was raw vegan I basically ate mostly fruits and veges some nuts and sprouted seeds. I switched because of several things, my hair started to thin despite loads of greens, hemp products and additional supplements to make sure that I had adequate B12, and iron levels. I also noticed a change in cycle so this alarmed me. I went to get some blood work done and my iron levels were so low that it was even lower than the bare minimum required. I supplemented with a plant based supplement but seems my body was not absorbing. I decided health comes first, so experimented with adding back some flesh foods. It's gotten better and switched a few things as well how I exercise. I'm still working out the macronutrients balance. I feel fine with an average of 65 g of protein but I try and up it if I'm doing any intense physical activity.

I'll try and play around with this and see what I come up with. I look forward to reading and hearing about other CRON blogs and sites.