Friday, April 16, 2010

Highs and Lows

Earlier this week, I wrote about my progress two weeks on, including the yard work I'd started. My overall energy has been a major improvement, since I've eaten mostly whole foods and avoided non-Paleo ingredients (except non-skim dairy). I haven't had the post-meal slump or the bloated feeling (typical of processed carbohydrates and too many calories). But I've been having a few off days, which I think are mostly due to my sudden increase in activity level, as well as sleep deficit.

Not having had much intense exercise for about a year, I'm finding it a bit harder to recuperate. When I'd been exercising twice a week for several months, I had little more than mild muscle soreness the following day (maybe a bit worse when I added new types of exercises hitting different muscle groups). Being over 40 makes it even more difficult. Despite having added a lot of fat over a year, I'm still benefiting from the workouts I did before my lapse. I feel just fine when I'm hard at work pulling weeds and lugging around my new toy. I filled up my 5 cu. ft. wheelbarrow about 3.5 times with the weeds I stooped over to pull or gathered up with a metal rake. My Ryobi power head is only 10 lbs., plus the weight of the attachments. However, my yard was seriously overgrown and I was having trouble getting the hang of trimming and edging precisely, especially since it provides much more power than I'm used to with electrical trimmers. So it probably took me twice as long as it should have. I definitely felt the effects in my forearms and hamstrings.

It didn't help that after eating the Sausage and Cabbage Stew for dinner one night and lunch the next day that I had intestinal trouble and felt like I'd been kicked in the gut by a horse for almost a full day. My wife had similar problems. We don't know if it was because the cabbage was overcooked or if the Herbs de Provence (which we had never used before) had some ingredient, like lavender, which triggered a reaction. I had cooked a basic version of the stew (just a few spices) a half dozen or more times since I got the recipe from Richard Nikoley's Free the Animal website. I never had any digestive trouble before. Then again, our trouble could have come from a totally unrelated source. The good thing was, I ate very little food once I did get sick and by evening the next day I was feeling great again.

I purposely work in a fasted state and I suspect that's a big part of why I feel great at the time. Now, when I go into ketosis from fasting (or cutting way down on all carbs), I embrace the feeling. Before doing Paleo with Intermittent Fasting (IF), I would get a panicky feeling after not eating for too long and fell for the "low blood sugar" myth that going too long without food was harmful to my health. Also, I would drink "sports drinks" during exercise and eat "power bars" (might as well be candy bars). As nearly all Paleo Diet or Evolutionary Fitness websites will explain, it makes no sense that human beings must have a rigid, 3-meal-a-day schedule to be healthy, or to fuel up before a workout. Our ancestors fished, hunted, and gathered what was available. When they ate varied due to chance and circumstances, as well as according to the seasons. They had no artificial refrigeration, grain silos, or oast houses. They went hungry until they found their next food sources. So, not only did they not drop dead from hypoglycemia, but the most work they did, the greatest physical effort, was done when they had gone without, perhaps for days.

Not only do I understand this intellectually, but my body feels quite comfortable with throwing out the modern notion of breakfast, lunch, and dinner at scheduled hours. I'm still working on being more attentive to my hunger as I do eat when I'm not hungry sometimes. I know part of that is habitual, "nervous" eating. Junk food, such as processed carbohydrates, do have an addictive quality, which certainly contributes to habitual eating, even when not hungry. But sometimes, I get excited about a particularly tasty meal and can't wait until I'm actually hungry. One of the things about cooking from scratch most of the time and having improved my cooking skills is that I really enjoy most of what I fix. Luckily, these temptations aren't too much of an obstacle.

Another bad habit I need to break is staying up late and getting less than eight hours of sleep (sometimes as little as four or five hours). As I've increased my activity, I should be getting more sleep to help recuperate. When I do get more than eight hours on a night after exertion, I recover much better. When I don't, I have a greater chance of feeling sick, or just taking longer to feel normal again.

1 comment:

David Csonka said...

You might want to look into the type and quality of sausage that you used. For a while I was eating quite a lot of less wholesome sausages for breakfast, and after a few days my gut starting ging me some pretty abnormal "messages".