The Elusive Aimee Ault

I put my array down, flip it, and reverse it.

No-fucking-up-vember: Week 3

At the start of November,  I started a month-long experiment based on a set of rules in a quest for self-improvement called No-fucking-up-vember.

Today marks the end of Week 3.

My notes!

  • I’ve started trying to integrate paleo into my more normal not-cooking-3-meals-a-day life. I’ve managed to do paleo at a couple of different restaurants. I am limited still in choices of places I can eat and it really is amazing how little technicalities can stand in the way. I had a striped sea bass dinner that ended up turning into the tiniest of cheating because it came in a miso soup (miso is fermented bean paste so it’s kind of a fine line)
  • I lost more weight again this week. Not as much as last week, but a couple of pounds. I know this sounds like, “Oh yay!” but I’m not trying to lose weight so it’s kind of weird considering I’m eating plenty.
  • For perspective, I started at 124.3 pounds with 19.5% body fat, 34.3% muscle mass. I am currently 118.1 pounds with 18.1% body fat and 35.6% muscle mass. I’ve tried not to focus too much on numbers because when you get involved in weightlifting, body weight becomes very irrelevant very fast. As long as I’m healthy and in good shape, I don’t care too much about my weight.
  • Doing this experiment has really, really helped me understand body image better. Even though I have lost weight, there are still some days where I feel “fat.” I’ve realized this has absolutely nothing to do with whether I actually am fat or not or what I look like in the mirror. What you eat plays a huge role in how your body feels, no matter what your weight.  If you don’t eat enough. If you eat too much sodium. If you don’t get enough variation in macronutrients. If you’re not getting enough fiber. If you’re getting too much fiber. If you’re not treating your body right, you’re not going to feel good.
  • Thanksgiving is looming ahead next week. I’m having dinner with my boyfriend and his parents but I’m going to be cooking some of the dishes. For me, this included making a home-made cranberry sauce that I test-ran this week. When I was a kid, my mom was not a very good cook. She didn’t cook anything with fresh ingredients. We rarely ate fruits and vegetables and when we did, they were canned. So, every Thanksgiving, cranberry sauce was that canned Ocean Spray jellied cylindrical blob. That said, I had no idea how wonderful cranberry sauce could be when you make it fresh!

    Ingredients:
    12 ounces of fresh organic cranberries
    ¾ cup of juice squeezed fresh from Valencia oranges
    ½ cup of raw honey
    1 cinnamon stick

    Mix first three ingredients together in a pot and heat on low-medium for 10-15 minutes. Add cinnamon stick about halfway in.  The berries should start to pop a bit creating a more liquid mixture. Remove from heat, remove cinnamon stick, and refrigerate until ready to serve. I found that the flavor on this really hit its peak about 3 days later, but it was delicious fresh off the stove too. An old friend from school recommended adding lemon zest too but I haven’t tried that yet.

  • I found out in the past week that coffee is actually paleo-friendly (assuming you take it black, which I do). BUMMER that I’ve gone 3 weeks without it. I don’t really miss it that much on a caffeine level because my energy has been through the roof without chemically altering my brain. But I miss bold, flavor-packed coffees and that weird punch you get from a decent cold brew. On the other hand, I’ve really grown to appreciate teas. My favorite tea is Harney & Sons Hot Cinnamon Spice. I cannot pimp this tea enough. Even if you don’t like teas normally, you’ll probably like this—it’s so bold and spicy.
  • Collard greens. Oh. man. When I was in grade school in South Carolina, they were often in the cafeteria lunch… that and friend okra… but it was always like, “What is this weird goopy kelp crap?” and I never really ate it that often. But man I can’t enough of it now. I love sautéed kale too because it has a more savory taste than other greens do. Also, kale chips. But yeah, collard greens. Stalks and all. I’m all in.
  • Sweet potatoes are my other love. Oiled with fresh rosemary… it’s weird to me how I never really used rosemary much outside of pasta dishes before. It pairs so well with sweet potatoes. Also: garlic with your sweet potatoes. Aghhhhh. So good. I feel like I eat a minimum of one clove of garlic per meal these days.
  • I’ve been trying to do a strict pull-up for a while now. I refuse to do kipping pull-ups so instead I’ve been doing rows and jumping pull-ups. The other day at Crossfit, I was very close to being able to do one strict! My only stalled spot is at the bottom hang. I’m sooooo close. And it feels amazing.
  • I PRed (set personal records) in the gym a few times the past week! Yay! I celebrated with flourless chocolate cake for my cheat meal.(I could only manage to eat about half of this because it tasted so rich in comparison to anything else I’ve had recently)
  • Albeit a small victory, perseverance paid off.  I’ve been loathing doing power cleans for a while now because my form is off. My coaches finally had a serious moment with me this week and spent some time giving me good feedback. I know I’m like the underdog kid when it comes to olympic lifts, but I’m so not giving up!
  • I watched a couple of documentaries–Forks Over Knives, which was about going vegan and cited that animal protein is responsible for turning on cancer, and Hungry for Change, which was about how we’re eating so much HFCS and simple carbohydrates that we’re overloading our body’s ability to process sugar.  I felt like both documentaries were both smug and yet also on-the-defense, both promoting something or some “fad.” I really appreciated Food, Inc. but trying to claim that you know what macronutrient ratio everyone needs is kind of bullshit, I think.
  • I’m suddenly very sensitive to advertising for unhealthy foods. I notice everywhere I go, people are trying to sell you junk food. And not like awesome-tasting junk food, but just throw-away crap like Little Debbie snack cakes and Dairy Queen ice cream and things that are “okay” but not so good that I can imagine squandering my rare times for eating sweets on things that are just so… mediocre? I mean, I love peanut butter M&Ms and sour gummy worms, but who is buying zebra cakes at gas station convenience stores? I kind of want to punch these people in the face.
  • I’ve got so many glasses of water laying around, it’s starting to look like the movie Signs all up in my house.
  • The weather lately has just been outright painful and has made keeping my Crossfit goals difficult considering I bike. I rode my bike in 16 degree Fahrenheit weather to get to a class this week—I had to wear 3 layers of shirt under my coat and pants over my pants. I’m grateful to my boyfriend who has taken me to and from things in his car whenever he’s available but yeah… the people at my gym said I was crazy and they’re probably right. From this, I’ve learned that it is very important to wick the sweat off your face after Crossfit before heading back into freezing weather. Because yeah, it crystallizes right there on your face and it hurts.

To close, here’s the simplest breakfast in the world:

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(Avocado with seed removed and egg inside with red pepper flakes, baked)

Although this one is a close second:

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(Cinnamon rolls made from almond flour and coconut flour, egg, honey, and cinnamon. I skipped the icing because who really needs that much sweet for breakfast? It was delicious on its own)

 

No-fucking-up-vember: Week 2 Complete

At the start of November,  I started a month-long experiment based on a set of rules in a quest for self-improvement called No-fucking-up-vember.

Today marks the end of Week 2. I really cannot believe I’ve been doing this for 2 weeks already.

My notes:

  • I lost weight this week. About 4 pounds. I don’t really know what to make of that. I don’t feel like it was weight lost from anywhere in particular, but I am suddenly seeing a lot more muscle definition, particularly in my shoulders and upper arms:

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    It only looks that crazy if I flex. I think this is about as decked out as I want my muscles to look. I like having a girlish figure and I have no plans to go into a career of body-building :)

  • I’m eating a lot of wild sockeye salmon. I’m trying to diversify what fish I eat. I sometimes have to google the name of a fish to make sure it’s not a fictitious World of Warcraft or Animal Crossing fish. This is kind of sad. Orange roughy.
  • I’m having a hard time visiting the grocery store without getting really bummed out when I look at ingredients on things. Why is there so much sodium in everything?
  • I’m cooking a lot of things now that I have never made before and in some cases, haven’t really eaten too much of before. I made my first honey balsamic roasted brussel sprouts over the weekend and they were delicious. I also made garlic mushroom meatloaf with my own home-made ketchup and I think it tasted better than any meatloaf my mom ever made when I was a kid.
  • My 2 cheat meals this week didn’t really feel too much like cheat meals to me. The first was pumpkin-seed crusted salmon, butternut squash salsa, sautéed kale, vegetable flan, flourless chocolate cake, and 2 glasses of wonderful cabernet. The second was blackened tofu with mashed garlic sweet potatoes (the tofu does push it into cheat meal territory on technicality but I don’t personally have an issue with soy so…).
  • 2 glasses of wine suddenly feels like a lot.  I had dinner with friends for the second cheat meal and felt mildly drunk when I came home.
  • Forcing Pilates into my schedule has become slightly annoying because no one else in the class does any form of strength training and so the teacher keeps trying to force bands and rings into things to introduce strength-training that I really do not need. All it does is fatigue my sore arms and legs. Core strength stuff is still nice though.
  • I’m noticing significant improvements in my Crossfit performance. I PRed twice in the past week on bench press and push press and doing cardio doesn’t put me as much out of breath as it did before.
  • The biking more than usual rule I don’t think is going to work out for me for the rest of the month due to weather. It was nice fall weather when I started this challenge (50s). There is now snow and 10-30 degree Fahrenheit weather at stake that makes riding my bike feel like I am dying. I still have to do it to get to Crossfit, but I have no desire to ride my bike elsewhere, especially on icy roads.
  • As a result, I’ve planned to travel to Iceland in December. One, as a reward to myself for doing this. But two, to allow myself to continue to be a functional human being there since my bike is my only means of transportation. Why Iceland? It’s actually warmer there despite its closeness to the arctic circle. Reykjavik is highly walkable, it has some of the fastest Internet in the world, almost everyone there speaks English on top of Icelandic so going to Crossfit there will be possible, they have a very healthy supply of fish, and um…. well… aurora borealis and hiking on a glacier? Yes please!
  • I signed up for a “Paleo on the Go” delivery service which does weekly deliveries. They drop 2 meals I order off at my Crossfit box. This is pretty ideal for me because I want fresh food after Crossfit but I don’t want to cook and the guy who operates this service seems like he takes a lot of pride in the food he makes :) The first meal I tried from them was Mustard-glazed roasted pork loin with butternut squash and roasted turnips.

  • My favorite fall drink… pumpkin puree… nutmeg… cinnamon… half of a frozen banana… half a cup of almond milk blended with an immersion blender. This tastes really good, even ignoring that it’s paleo. Also pumpkin has almost no sugar in (the banana on the other hand….)

  • Lowering the amount of sugar I eat, my mouth is now super aware of it when I taste it. I feel like if I ate bread with HFCS from the grocery store right now, I’d be unnerved by how sweet it is. A banana feels like eating candy.

  • The flavor I’ve missed more than sweet is sour. I loved sour candy and sour beer. To deal with that, I like to eat raw cranberries. Not only tasty, but also good for preventing urinary tract infections, I hear. I am slowly craving sour beer less and less though.

  • I finally started to notice improvements in my skin from drinking a ton of water. Not huge differences. But slight. I don’t think you could really tell a difference unless you spent all day looking at my stupid face. But I included before/after photos anyway for comparison. Less redness overall. Skin feels a tiny bit softer.

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    Again, if anyone can really see a difference in that before/after, I’d be really surprised. It’s not quite like that lady who looked 10 years younger after a month. Not sure if I want to look 10 years younger than I already look anyway.

  • I was successful in finally getting 9 hours of sleep. When I get less than 8.5 now, I feel super tired the next day. So that kinda sucks.
  • FIBER: Screen Shot 2014-11-14 at 8.41.33 AM

I didn’t take a significant amount of food photos this week oddly, but:

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Baked cinnamon apple slices I made. These tasted ridiculously sweet to me. They’re also extremely easy to make. Just slice an apple, coat it in cinnamon, and bake at 200 for several hours.

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My new go-to breakfast food when I’m feeling like I want carbs. Pumpkin pancakes made from pumpkin puree,  eggs, coconut flour, vanilla extract, nutmeg. They have about the same texture as normal pancakes but I suck at flipping pancakes. They definitely do not taste as sweet as normal pancakes do, hence the definite need for maple syrup or honey.

 

 

No-fucking-up-vember Week 1: Complete

I started a month of self-accountability this month called “No-fucking-up-vember“.

Today is the end of week 1.

Here are the highlights:

  • Even though I only set out to do this for the sake of personal accountability and not getting gross diseases when I’m older… my clothes are fitting me better. It’s not a huge difference or anything, but I can just feel it.
  • As someone who loves to cook, I really am enjoying the aspect of working with base materials that I haven’t used a lot, like nut-based ingredients. Coconut oil, almond flour, coconut milk… they seem to be staples. I enjoy finding new ways to cook vegetables I like as well, like sweet potato chips.
  • Gallon of water a day works. I don’t really see it so much in my skin, but I didn’t have a lot of skin imperfections to start. If anything, I guess my skin has a bit more glow to it now. It definitely shows in my hair though. It’s regained a lot of flounce that seemed to have gone missing in the last year. As someone who has very, very thick wavy, curly hair, I’m seeing a lot less breakage too. Yay!
  • I generally wake up feeling very refreshed and not sleepy. Part of this may be the fact that I have almost eliminated caffeine from my diet. I drink a cup of cinnamon tea first thing in the morning, but that’s it.
  • I have more time to do things that require hand-eye coordination now that I’m not drinking beer at all. Woo!
  • Doing pilates in conjunction with CrossFit has been wonderful. It helps me with core strength I definitely need for weightlifting. The increased flexibility is a nice perk, too.
  • Giving myself cheat meals, oddly, has made me less likely to cheat. I value them too much to waste them on things that are gross.
  • Cheat meals have been interesting. I appreciate the flavor way more than I did when I ate these things regularly, but also my body has picked up a slightly better intuition as to what things are not nutritious. I also noticed I don’t feel sodium bloat after eating these things now since they are rare (my first cheat meal was shrimp scampi and a piece of chocolate cake for dessert for anyone curious).
  • I often have tons of leftovers from things I make. This is great because after CrossFit, I want to do about… oh, 0 cooking and just want to funnel food into my mouth. Leftovers are a godsend for that.
  • I am far more selective about wine that I drink. Only the good stuff. No Whole Foods Malbecs for me, thanks.
  • I’m generally in a happier mood. Doing something good for myself feels good. It makes me feel somewhat more confident as well knowing I can succeed at a very difficult goal.
  • I’m not sure which aspect of it is providing this benefit (I suspect the vitamin D and omega 3 supplements) but I’ve had some rough rotator cuff pain for a long time and it’s loosened up significantly in just a week. Basically, shoving foods with anti-inflammatory properties in your mouth makes your body feel pretty great on the whole.

The lowlights:

  • Have you drank a gallon of water a day? You will pee like 17 times a day. I also gained 8 pounds of water weight in a single day. On the flip side, by day 3, I had lost all 8 pounds along with 3 additional pounds, so… cool?
  • A couple of days I did not meet my water mark. I did drink anywhere from 10-14 glasses of water on those days though (this does not include any tea I drank).
  • Also, drinking that much water will make you want to barf no matter how much you space it out.
  • It took a couple of days for my body to get adjusted to the changes in my diet. I felt a tiny bit light-headed and weak, despite feeling perfectly sated. According to several websites of varying repute, this is because your body goes through a detox when you stop eating tons of sodium, sugar, and processed foods. I have no idea if this is true or not, but I know I felt shaky here and there… and then suddenly, by day 3, not at all and back to my regular–if not more energetic–self. It was kind of like having caffeine withdrawal, if I had to compare it to something.
  • Paleo cooking is time-consuming! On my first night, my boyfriend was over and helped me make dinner. It felt like we were cooking for 2 hours. It was probably just an hour, but just imagine spending 3 hours of your day cooking. I think as I get more used to being in the habit of cooking, I’ll get faster about it.
  • Some vegetables I’m already sick of. I like zucchini, but I’ve seen recipes where it is used as bread and I don’t really enjoy find the texture of a big long slice of it to be very palatable.
  • I still am struggling to get 8-9 hours of sleep. Before this experiment, I was averaging 6-7.5. I’d say at the moment, I’ve increased that number to 7.5-8.25, depending on the night.  I’m a light sleeper and my bedroom is directly above a busy street so I’m not really surprised by any of this.
  • I’ve had a runny nose for the past few days. I like to think this is actually like my body resisting a cold it would have normally picked up. My immune system was pretty crappy. That’s another thing I’m hoping will get better with these changes.

Here’s what it all looks like:
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This is one of my favorite recipes I picked up. It’s granola. You put some cashews, almonds, and unsweetened coconut flakes in a food processor, then coat that mixture in coconut oil, vanilla extract, and a tiny smidge of ginger honey and bake it for 18 minutes at 300 degrees. Then lightly sprinkle sea salt on it after it’s done (I added some dried cranberries to mine too). It made my kitchen smell like vanilla too, which was rad, and tastes better than any granola I’ve ever bought in stores.

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If any of these things look appetizing, the recipes for them can be acquired on Paleogrubs.com

This is my pantry. All the things on the top shelf are things I’m not eating:

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Most of my veggies and fruits are in the fridge. And here’s my other cabinet of cooking-related items:

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It’s a lot of coconut milk!

I worried that these things would taste awful and flavorless but they taste way better than things I was cooking before. I know that sounds really fake and scripted but I really mean it. I had a rosemary, sweet potato, egg, and italian sausage hash for breakfast on my first day that was unparalleled with any scramble I’ve had in a restaurant. I do miss beer though. There is no substitute for beer. I also learned from all of this that there is literally no reason to ever buy any kind of coconut product organic. It’s like the safest thing you could possibly buy non-organic and buying it organic often doubles the cost.

A lot of people go paleo and lose a ton of weight. I did not lose any weight ultimately. I don’t really expect to, though. I do see slight differences in my body’s appearance but I don’t feel like they’re noticeable with clothing on, so it’s not exactly anything I’m tooting any horn about. What I’m saying is… if you’re already in pretty good shape and try this, don’t expect much number-shifting. You’ll feel a lot better but the data evidence to back it will be slim pickings.

On the whole, I’m happy about this change. It does feel like an enormous change and food is suddenly a much bigger aspect of my life than it was before… based on just this week alone, I highly doubt I am going to stick to a 100% paleo lifestyle in the long run, but I think I will stick to the principle of clean eating.

No-fucking-up-vember

In June, I started a foray into Crossfit. It’s been a really wonderful journey into acquiring two tickets to the gun show, but I’m a bit sloppy outside of the gym. I often return from class and eat the first thing I can get my hands on because I’m starving.  Like pizza. Sometimes I forget to eat lunch because I’m busy with work. I think I look great, but I often don’t feel great. So, for me, November will become “No-fucking-up-vember.”

For at least one month, I will attempt to adhere to these rules: 

  1. Drink one gallon of water a day.
  2. No beer or liquor. 1-2 glasses of wine a week max.
  3. 2 cheat meals a week (because it’s practical and also because not doing this would be social suicide, I think)
  4. Paleo (modified though, because I eat things like beans and greek yogurt).
  5. No skipping Crossfit days. Unless I am very ill, if I sign up, I go.
  6. 8-9 hours of sleep a night.
  7. 1 Pilates session a week.
  8. Daily fish oil and Vitamin D supplement.
  9. Although I ride my bike about 5-15 miles a day currently, at least one day a week, riding 20+ miles.

I am aware that Thanksgiving occurs in November. But that doesn’t really mean anything to me. I’ve done vegan Thanksgiving before and Paleo Thanksgiving couldn’t possibly be weirder than vegan Thanksgiving was. Most of these rules I don’t think will be that difficult for me, however I suspect cutting alcohol from my life will be pretty shitty because I love a good ale and whiskey. I enjoy cooking, so I think once I get into the habit of cooking, I’ll have an appreciation for it.

During this time, I’ll be posting weekly updates, including any times I’ve slipped up, any horror stories, or anything I uncover that is generally very awesome and worth sharing.

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That Time I Got My Fortune Told

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I’m not skeptical of psychics entirely, though, just their supernatural powers. Because like others, their profession operates entirely on slight of hand. Their job is to read–it’s just not cards they’re reading. They’re reading you.

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