VHALKYRIE   16,233
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Relearning What I Thought I Knew

Friday, May 20, 2011

When I was a kid in the 80s, I don't remember a lot of overweight people in my area. Obesity was still a relatively rare phenomena, but there were concerns about it becoming a problem. The government changed dietary guidelines. They said Americans ate too much meat. Saturated fat was making us fat and heart attack prone. They changed dietary guidelines, and the high carbohydrate, low fat diet emerged. Snackwell fat free cookies dominated the new diets.

We got fatter. Much fatter. "Adult onset diabetes" was renamed "Type II diabetes" because now kids were getting diabetes at younger and younger ages.

Back in 2000-2002, I was obese after never being overweight as a kid or teenager. I was overweight AND obese for the first time in my life. I blamed it on 'slow metabolism' and 'aging' (at 28 years old). There was nothing wrong with my metabolism, or my age. It was entirely bad food choices and lack of exercise.

In 2002, I regularly had double quarter pounders, supersized fries, and 32oz fully leaded coke for lunch.

I started turning it around in 2004. My diet had drastically changed. I stopped eating at fast food restaurants completely. I shopped only at farmer's markets in Seattle, buying fresh veggies and fruit. I ate mass quantities of wild caught Pacific salmon. I ate more fish than beef. I started eating more grass fed beef, and free range chickens.

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My diet was not perfect by any means, though. I drank beer and happy hour cocktails with friends. A few more margaritas than I should probably admit to. ;) I began exploring wines, as there are so many vineyards in Washington.

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I managed to lose 30 lbs. I wanted to lose 40. These last remaining 10 lbs are stubborn. I've been trying to get rid of it for about 4 years? To be honest, I probably haven't been super motivated.

During my last physical, my doctor called me an 'athlete'. My bloodwork is perfect. Cholesterol, blood pressure, insulin, kidney, liver, thyroid function - everything - is all above average health. My interior body is all functioning like an 'athlete'. But I don't look like one. Still carrying around higher bodyfat than I would like.

So I started thinking. Something else is going on. My body is hanging onto this excess fat and is in stasis. Whatever I am doing is just keeping things the same.

I got to thinking about bodybuilders. They lose fat to ridiculous levels right before a competition. It is not healthy long term, but somehow, they can manipulate their bodies to drop body fat for competition levels. How did they do it?

I started poking around bodybuilding websites. I was expecting to find information about exercise routines. I was surprised to find them discussing nutrition instead. Many of the guys (and female bodybuilders) were saying they did no more than 30 minutes cardio while 'cutting' fat per day. How could this be? This seemed to fly in the face of everything I heard about losing weight.

Then I read a bodybuilding article that changed my perspective completely. It talked about insulin and insulin resistance. How insulin affects fat storage and fat burn. High levels of insulin enables fat storage, and disables fat burn (oversimplified, but that is the gist). Nutrition determines insulin response.

My physical said my insulin levels were good - I am not at risk of metabolic syndrome because I happened to already be doing the right things to control my blood sugar through my diet. However, my diet is keeping things in stasis. My nutrition is neither encouraging fat burn, nor fat storage. My diet is perfect for maintenance levels.

This is not what I want. I want to encourage fat burn.

Remember in 2002 when I was obese? I first started dabbling with the Zone Diet. I did it all wrong, though. I didn't give up eating the double quarter pounders. I wasn't disciplined.

I thought insulin levels were only important for diabetics. I never researched it further because I am not diabetic, nor at risk of diabetes.

Now I'm voraciously absorbing as much information as I can get on it. Just finished reading the "Paleo Diet" yesterday. Now I'm following up on "Protein Power" at the recommendation of Spark friends. It really does throw everything I thought I knew about good nutrition on its head.

I think the Paleo Diet is too restrictive for me. I cannot see myself eliminating cheese, yogurt, and beans. I have already cut grain consumption way back. However, I can say the book got me to thinking. It's opened a thought pathway I might not have considered before.

"Protein Power" is getting a lot closer to what would be a doable 'lifestyle' change I can live with long term. Cheese and yogurt are not restricted. Beans are considered more carbohydrate than protein. I will have to consider that point further.

I admit that changes that seem to throw your paradigm on its head are difficult to unravel. I'm shocked that some consider "The Zone" diet to be a dangerous low carb diet. Food pyramid recommendation is 60-20-20 carbs/fat/protein. The Zone is 40-30-30. Atkins is 20-40-40. The Zone is actually the moderate carbohydrate diet.

All I know is, the USDA recommendations are a disaster. We are fatter and unhealthier than ever. There was just one girl in my entire high school who was severely overweight in the 90s. I learned recently that she had a heart attack when she was just 33 years old. These days, I see high school kids who are proportionally much larger than my high school class. 65% of the entire population of the US is overweight or obese. How many of these kids will also be facing coronary issues in their 30s?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ZURDTA- 5/21/2011 6:02AM


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SEDGEY 5/20/2011 2:18PM

    I couldn't give up beans and yogurt either. I'm appreciating that you're doing all this research and reporting your findings. :)

I'm usually relatively low carb (Zone ranges) when left to my own devices, but eating in someone else's home 5 days a week and now with the shop open, it's gone up in carbs. I'll have to work on that.

Thanks for the inspiration!

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VHALKYRIE 5/20/2011 2:01PM

    Well, I am not aboard the no-dairy, no-legume routine. It is an interesting discussion that I had not considered before, though. Chickpeas and lentils are among civilization's oldest food. Plants have domesticated us, as much as we have domesticated plants. Some people are naturally more sensitive to some foods than others. I cannot drink straight milk without digestive issues, for example, but I can eat cheese and yogurt. Others have no issues drinking milk. Others are so lactose sensitive they can't even eat yogurt or cheese.

Previously, I considered beans to be a protein food, but I am reconsidering whether to count them as a carb.

Comment edited on: 5/20/2011 2:22:51 PM

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LADYROSE 5/20/2011 1:15PM

    "It really does throw everything I thought I knew about good nutrition on its head."

Yep... it really, really does...there's a cartoon I saw that I wish I could find again, that had a person looking at the USDA Food Pyramid chart with all the grains and carbs as the foundation - and the person looked like the pyramid. LOL!

I've been thinking lately that what I'm doing is the "Bizzaro" way - taking conventional wisdom and doing the exact opposite. LOL!

"I think the Paleo Diet is too restrictive for me."

I really thought that too, because grains, beans, etc., are oh so /healthy/ for us, right?!?! LOL! Anywho, that's how I started too, but gradually, at _my own pace_ started to eliminate more and more things and, if the pay off was worth it (ie better phyiscial performance, less aches, less brain fog, stable energy, etc.) then those things got either completely kicked out of the rotation, or were put in the "very rare indulgence" category.

I'm not one who can just jump in to making massive changes, I have to have compelling reasons and supporting documentation to consider it, then, being an experiment of 1, if the pay off vs. energy expended isn't worth it or sustainable to me, it's not gonna happen... but if it is, then there's no trouble sticking to the decision. :)

"I was surprised to find them discussing nutrition instead."

Yeppers... the kitchen is your biggest ally in this 'battle'... the gym just plays a supporting role.

It's all about finding what works for you in the long run... There's a lot of 'militant' types that say you /have/ to do things this way or that way. I say not to get hung up on the details. Get the info on the major inflammatory offenders, give it a solid effort for at least a month and see how you feel. If it works for you, great, if not, tweak it till you can make it work and still get the maximum health benefits out of it.


Comment edited on: 5/20/2011 1:17:02 PM

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Modern Human Are Wimps

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Continuing my latest saga on anthropology. ;) Yesterday we talked about food. Today, let's talk about fitness!

Has anyone read the book "Manthropology"? It's about how wimpy modern man is compared to our primitive ancestors. Even not so primitive civilizations like the Romans.

Couple of the eye opening points:

- Roman legions carried half their body weight in gear, completing the equivalent of one and a half marathons per day when on the march.
- Many prehistoric aboriginals could run faster, jump higher, and farther than many of our elite Olympian athletes. Some anthropologists estimate primitive man in Africa with modern running shoes and running track might reach speeds of up to 45 kph!

A couple of my own thoughts.

- Any of you old enough to have grandmothers who told stories about how difficult churning butter is?
- How many can beat cake batter with just a wooden spoon, without a cake mixer? I dare you to try it sometime. If your muscles aren't screaming, then I am in awe of you!
- American pioneer woman was no girly girl. She had to have serious muscle to carry heavy loads of laundry down to the creek, and scrub clothes on a washboard.
- How many of you chopped trees, dragged it through the woods, and built your own house?
- Easier question. How many of you can chop firewood?
- Raise your hand if you can climb a palm tree to reach a coconut?
- Could you go on a one year extended backpacky hike, with no trail maps, no GPS, carrying a baby from N. Dakota to Oregon? Sacajawea did.

Have any other feats of fitness done in the past that the average modern office worker would find extremely difficult?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TWO_SPARROWS 5/20/2011 1:04PM

    Hmm...interesting blog. Good points, and I agree with all of them.

In answer to your questions,

-yes, I can churn butter. I don't have to hear about it from my grandmother, I've actually done it. It takes hours and it's hard work.

-yes, I can cut my own firewood. I can't do it with an axe, but I can do it with a sledge hammer and an 8 lb. splitting wedge.

-yes, I've beaten cake batter with a wooden spoon. I did it in tandem with a partner. We actually had to spare each other off. It's not an easy task by ANY means.

-I have "slaked" lye using the ashes from hardwood. I needed to do that to make soap.

-I have rendered beef fat into tallow using a wood stove. It's a very long, smelly, dangerous procedure. You need this, actually, to make soap.

-I have scrubbed clothes on a washboard using the soap I made.

These experiences have come from living in rural Canada, and employed for a lengthy stay with a living history museum site as an "interpretive guide". It was an awesome experience and one I would readily recommend to ANYONE.

You've made an awesome point. Not enough of us appreciate the backbreaking work that went into daily living even 100 years ago. Modern throw-away mentalities have robbed us of much of our heritage.

Thank-you so much for posting this!!!

Yay YOU!

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ARCHIMEDESII 5/20/2011 11:02AM

    Yeah, primitive and ancient man (in general) were in better shape physically than modern man. Unfortunately, they also lived significantly shorter lives. The average life expectancy for a Roman man was 37 years. Primitive man wasn't even that lucky. Modern man can live as long as 100+ years barring disease and accidents.

If you compare ancient people to modern, if our ancestors were reasonably well off financially, had access to good nutrition as well as good medical care, then they had a chance of living a long productive life. If you were a poor peasant, you didn't stand a chance. Think of the Chinese slaves who had to build the Great Wall. That's back breaking work that killed thousands.

Actually, I think our grandparents are a better comparison for us. They were in much better shape because they did do more work and labor. Shoot, even getting up to change the TV channel burned some calories !! LOL !!!

Anyway, I digress... eh-hem... I can whip up a cake batter without a mixer. That's how my mom taught me. And while I haven't built my own house, I'll have you know I'm quite handy with a paint brush, spackling, sand paper, hammer, etc... I have done plenty of odd jobs around the house. that much I can do.

Also, pioneer women rocked !!!

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SHARJOPAUL 5/20/2011 8:30AM

    Considering what humans did even 100 years ago, with the availability of food, especially fast foods, is it any wonder why we have so many weight problems?

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SPACEPRINCESS 5/20/2011 7:40AM

    I was just talking to a friend yesterday about lawnmowers. My stepdad has a fancy riding mower with a neat little cupholder and I giggle a little when I see it because when I was a teenager, it was my job to mow the lawn. Our lawnmower was not self propelled and we lived on a half acre lot with a hill in back and a giant ditch on the side. Still doesn't rank with Sacajawea, but it was so much harder than riding a cute little tractor around!

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THINRONNA 5/20/2011 6:05AM

    I agree with you. We are far more capable of doing physical labor than we realize (or want to do). Nevis was not a modern place. The houses are built by hand and made out of stone and cement. The ditches are dug by hand and then tended by a men with machetes to keep the weeds at bay. A machete is a common tool there. The fences are made by piling stones up and are made by hand perfectly. Coconuts are cracked open by smashing them on something hard. People walk with loads of groceries on thier heads, especially the older ladies. Things are simply done by hand and muscle there.

I can whisk egg whites to full volume if that counts for anything!

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    I can say I have done two of those things! Stirred cake batter with a spoon instead of a mixer, and chopped my own firewood. I have to wonder how Amish people would measure up . . .

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JUSTBIRDY 5/20/2011 2:07AM

    I'm old enough, but my grandmother didn't do any of that stuff. I showed her how to make bread. The other side of my family, no way. Cows were for rich people.
I can beat batter by hand, but now that I am low carb, I am more likely to make whipped cream by hand than cake.
I'll have to say, I haven't made my own house, but I have cut down smaller trees (and dragged them to a city dumpster) and I DO know how to cut firewood, and even start the fire.
Now you have me wondering if I can grow coconut in my backyard.

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VHALKYRIE 5/19/2011 6:05PM

    SEDGEY: My jaw dropped when I saw the picture of John Muir at what is now Camp Muir right before climbing Rainier. He was wearing what looked like a long wool coat, regular shoes, a small pickaxe, and a small satchel. That was it! I thought of all the mountain climbers on the way to Camp Muir hauling REI ultralight tents, 50lb backpacks stuffed with butane stoves, dehydrated food, climbing rope, spiked climbing shoes, showshoes, walking poles, Gore tex jackets, layers of fleece, etc etc!

Mrs Carly: I was hurting when I merely spent just an afternoon putting plants into pots for my tiny balcony garden!

Comment edited on: 5/19/2011 6:11:03 PM

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SEDGEY 5/19/2011 5:56PM

    We heat with wood so I can chop it although I leave that job primarily to my man. :)

I agree that we're wimps. I always look at the photos taken around the turn of the century of women climbing to the top of Mount Baker ... in dresses and flimsy little heeled shoes!

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MRS.CARLY 5/19/2011 5:36PM

    Got me thinking...I'm a wimp

My mom tells stories of "pickin' cotton" when she was 8 years old she picked 100 pounds of cotton! Which...that stuff is REALLY light!

Comment edited on: 5/19/2011 5:37:12 PM

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I Am a Neolithic Eater

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Based on the recommendation of some Spark friends, I decided to check out the "Paleo Diet" book. I admit to being drawn to the idea for a couple of reasons. I'm really fascinated about our ancient ancestors and how they lived.

This may be a terribly nerdy and potentially embarassing thing for me to admit, but when I go camping, I imagine what life would have been like as cave woman. I imagine that I'm not in a tent, but a teepee or cave. My sleeping bag is a cured animal hide, not a high tech synthetic. I can rough it pretty well - I can be wilderness survival girl if I needed to be. So imagining a cave woman diet sounds intriguing!

Ahem. Back to our regularly scheduled programming.


At first glance, this seemed to be a great fit for me. Carb/fat/protein ratios are about 40/30/30 - same as Zone Diet, which I favor. Fish, lean meats, all the veggies and fruit you can eat. Ok, I'm on board with this.

Then I got to the 'no-no' food list. No dairy of any kind. No legumes. No grain.

Ok, I have reduced my grain consumption pretty heavily already. But no cheese? No yogurt? No beans? Yikes!

I am mildly lactose intolerant, so I don't consume straight milk. Yogurt and cheese I can eat with no problem because the bacteria consumes most of the lactose.

I haven't finished the book yet (about halfway through), but one thing that struck me odd is no mention of Mongolians. The author mentions Eskimo high protein/low carb diet frequently as his case study that high carb diets are unnecessary. Eskimos eat a diet very similar to our paleo ancestors. Lots of fish, caribou, and seal meat. Very little plant matter. No dairy.

Mongolians also eat a very high protein/low carb diet. They also consume a high amount of dairy. Mongolians have been dependent on the blood, meat, and milk of their goats and horses since the neolithic age. Since food and resources are scarce in the harsh desert climate of Mongolia, they butchered their animals sparingly. They drank the milk. They bled the animals with just a little cut, then boiled the blood to consume. Blood and milk were renewable resources that wouldn't require killing their animals as frequently as necessary to sustain their population. They butchered their animals to cook and dehydrate the meat on a sustainable basis. They still live mostly this way today.

I just found it odd to exclude Mongolians from the discussion. Inuit eskimos are most likely descendents of Mongolians. They appeared in North America about the time the Mongolians were established with herds of domesticated animals in the neolithic era. Herding is probably what enabled them to travel the long distance across the Bering Straight as they brought their animals with them. So I am not entirely convinced about the exclusion of dairy.

I've decided that the "neolithic diet" probably suits me better. Neolithic people did not raise their animals with growth hormones or antibiotics. They domesticated plants without requiring genetically modified "Roundup" genes. So I'm keeping the organic cheese and yogurt, and non GMO beans. I'm reducing the amount of grains I eat, but not eliminating entirely.

I guess I'm more of a "Bronze Age" than a Clan of the Cave Bear "Stone Age" woman.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

VHALKYRIE 5/20/2011 11:34AM

    Yes, insects, bugs and slugs would be the easiest protein sources to obtain.

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JUSTBIRDY 5/20/2011 1:59AM

    I don't think the hunting would have been all that hard. Just today, I found about a dozen snails in my garden, all ripe for eating if I was hungry enough. Plenty of slugs, too, which I have eaten before by accident. Not too tasty to me, but they didn't kill me either. I know of two bird's nests in my yard, and know I can raid them any time, or kill off the parents later on in the season with a rock and some patience.
In the summer, if I get out there early, I can grab a bag of grasshoppers before the dew dries. MMMM, dinner!
My gardening friends can run down rabbits and gophers easily and kill them with a shovel, and that could be done very easily with a large stick.
Fishing isn't hard. Just throw some doveweed in a creek, and scoop the fish up.

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LADYROSE 5/19/2011 4:47PM

    YAY another -lithic eater! LOL!

Personally I toe the line between 'paleo' and 'neo' lithics - depending on what I'm doing activity wise and where my stress level is, or what's happening with my tummy.

I applaud you for getting more than 2 chapters into Cordain's book... after he started bashing fats, I stopped reading. I understand the arguments for dropping dairy, but at the same point won't give up my butter! LOL!

I'm glad he got the ball rolling so to speak, but feel there's much better information out there on the why of adopting a 'paleo-esque' model than Cordain... Drs. Eades' Protein Power Lifeplan would totally appeal to the science geek in you, since it's very much looking at the effects of food on the body and is evidence based on his practice working with thousands and thousands of clients, rather than academic study.

I'm still waiting to read Robb Wolf's book as well - he's more in the 'this is what works for me' camp rather than from the clinical camp.

I also like http://www.archevore.com/ (newer) or http://paleonu.blogspot.com/ (older) - lots of common sense/make it work for you to achieve optimal health stuff rather than puritanical

This is from the paleonu site:

"The diet is not about eating exactly what "caveman" ate, or killing your own food. It is solely about duplicating what I believe are the key elements of the internal hormonal metabolic milieu that we evolved under from especially less than 1 million years ago to about 10,000 years ago. This is likely to be achieved not by _eating_ specific things, but more by _not eating_ specific things."

Speaking of camps, I'll be doing my modern cavewoman act the next couple of weeks camping in the not-so-wilds of Canada. Looking forward to it! I'll be thinking of you! :)

Comment edited on: 5/19/2011 4:51:52 PM

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VHALKYRIE 5/19/2011 3:43PM

    Throwing a spear or shooting a bow and arrow is hard! Shooting with a rifle is much easier - the bullet flies so fast it is almost a straight shot. Spears and arrows arc - very difficult. Even with more abundant ratio of animals, there was a good probability that you'd miss. Also, sometimes even if the spear or arrow hit, it would be a glancing blow and the animal would still run off.

Hunting in modern times with modern rifles is easier because if you can hit the animal, the impact is much more likely to be fatal, or severely wounding.

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ARCHIMEDESII 5/19/2011 3:33PM

    Hey, SEDGEY ! I think this is an awesome conversation !!

I thought about those ratios i.e. more animals to fewer people. There were definitely fewer people fighting for resources tens of thousands of years ago. However, we also have to consider we weren't the only ones chasing that antelope, so were other predators. AND some of those predators were chasing US. Which makes me wonder how they managed to outrun those lions some days.

In short, you needed extra calories to either catch lunch or be lunch ! So, where was all that food coming from ? Sure, there were massive herds of buffalo way back when, but it's not easy catching a buffalo. it really does take a village to take one of those bad boys down with a bow and arrow or spear. Buffalo are not passive animals. Even a lobster can take a chunk out of you if you don't watch those claws. ;)

Comment edited on: 5/19/2011 4:13:29 PM

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SEDGEY 5/19/2011 3:21PM

    Does the book mention the Maasai at all? They also consume blood and milk as part of their modern yet historical diet.

One thing to keep in mind is that, in the past, there were many many fewer people and many more animals. That ratio has inverted itself. Estimates show less than 10 million people up to 4000 BCE. Hunting would have been a lot easier just as a numbers game and probably many animal populations not necessarily fearing humans as much. Now that there are more like 7 billion people, hunting is naturally much more difficult.

Great thoughtful post. :)

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VHALKYRIE 5/19/2011 3:11PM

    I have read "Guns, Germs and Steel"! At least 3 times! One of my favorite books!

Organic grubs - LOL! I just brought up the bug thing as an explanation why we are omnivores, and why we require omega-3, B12, and iron. I'm not considering replacing beans in my diet with grubs!!!

Also, speaking of cultures that still eat bugs...remind me to write about my own "Bizarre Food" experience in S Korea sometime. ;)

Comment edited on: 5/19/2011 3:22:26 PM

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ARCHIMEDESII 5/19/2011 3:09PM

    In South America, Asia, Africa and even Australia, folks eat insects or grubs today. In Mexico, there are famous dishes made with ants ! Okay, that's a tad too rustic for me. LOL !!! But yes, insects should provide a good source of protein. Unfortunately, how good that quality is, can be questioned. Once again, if our animals are ingesting pesticides and chemicals, then so are the insects. I wonder if there are organic grubs ? LOL !!!

Oh, BTW, I do believe I read about the rise of agriculture as a counter balance to the rise in population in Guns, Germs and Steel by Jared Diamond. If you haven't read it. Put it on your list of things to read. It's excellent !!

Comment edited on: 5/19/2011 3:12:13 PM

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VHALKYRIE 5/19/2011 2:59PM

    Also something to consider. Many insect proteins are rich in omega-3s, B12 vitamins, and iron. Our earliest ancestors were bug eaters, omnivores like raccoons. Raccoons are insect eaters, but they can eat lots of other things. This is probably why we require omega-3, B12, and iron. Iron can be obtained from some plant matter, but omega-3 and B12 are very hard to get on a pure vegetarian diet. Omega-3 from plants are less stable than from fish oil. Omega-3 from fish oil is absorbed more rapidly than from plant sources. Modern vegans get omega-3, B12 and iron primarily from supplements.

The adaptation to be dependent on omega-3, B12, and iron also happened to make us suited to scavenge meat from carnivores. Before the invention of hunting tools, we were poorly adapted to kill animal prey. Hence why we are omnivores. We can eat plant matter and turn carbohydrates to glucose for fuel, but we require protein and the essential vitamins regularly. Iron and B12 anemias are fatal.

On the other side, pure carnivore diet is also fatal. We are designed for a mix of protein and plants.

Comment edited on: 5/19/2011 3:18:51 PM

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THINRONNA 5/19/2011 2:50PM

    Again...really interesting and insightful. I could have a conversation about it all in person I think but maybe I am too tired to write about it! One day when we meet we can have some wine and talk about such things! Other than that I cannot contribute much really but I do that thing that you do when camping! I even sometimes do it when I am sleeping in my bed at home except I imagine I am in a one room home in the middle ages! Geek! I know!

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VHALKYRIE 5/19/2011 2:32PM

    High carb diets wouldn't have been a problem for paleo people. They would have had to burn off any excess calories or fat storage in order to scavenge more food. As SparkBirdy mentioned in another post, there are no essential carbohydrates, only essential fatty acids and vitamins that come from meat protein. Most likely what happened was paleo tribes would feast upon successful hunts (or scavenged from lions), then go days or weeks eating mostly plant matter. They probably did not balance their plates with meat, potatoes and a side salad! LOL! It was most likely either all meat, then all veggie (with maybe a little dried or cured meat) until the next hunt.

Insects would have been the easiest protein source for paleo man/woman to obtain.

Comment edited on: 5/19/2011 2:35:24 PM

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ANDEENNATE 5/19/2011 2:10PM

    I enjoyed this blog and all the comments, very interesting!

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ARCHIMEDESII 5/19/2011 1:19PM

    You know, that's what bothers me about all the so called experts who say that our ancestors ate more meat than veggies because of being successful hunters.

As you correctly noted, hunting requires quite a bit of calories ! A hunter burns some serious calories trying to chase down an antelope or deer. So, where are all those calories coming from to fuel those hunts ? Here's the thing, not only does that antelope have to feed the hunters, it has to feed the entire community i.e. old men, women, children, etc... And if you look at modern hunter gather societies, there isn't enough game to go around. Many do rely on their gardens for food.

I can't remember the book I was reading, but an anthropologist posed this question,"Did a rise in population cause hunter gathers to turn to farming to feed the extra people OR did the rise of agriculture result in the increase of humanity ?" So, was the rise of agriculture a response to the rise in population or a result of the rise in population ?

I totally agree. Hunting or fishing really does require quite a bit of skill. Although, if you read about the Pilgrims, you'll learn that much of their "diet" was from lobster ! Back then, you could go to the beach and just pick them up off the ground. Lobster was considered cheap easy food. So, yeah, having a turkey would be a nice change !! LOL !!!

I thought that an interesting theory. I love talking anthropology !!


Comment edited on: 5/19/2011 1:24:07 PM

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VHALKYRIE 5/19/2011 1:17PM

    The author makes it sound too easy that paleo tribes ate wild meat and fish. He is obviously a much better hunter and fisher than I am! Both require a tremendous amount of patience, and frustration when one gets away. Sometimes during an unfruitful fishing excursion, I think to myself about cavewoman and how many hungry days she would have had, if this was her only means of survival. After a bad fishing trip, we just stop at a burger joint and complain about how unlucky we were. For cavewoman, she most likely had to turn to scraping up roots from tubers, or hoping her fellow tribes people were more successful and had something to share.

Comment edited on: 5/19/2011 1:18:30 PM

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VHALKYRIE 5/19/2011 12:56PM

    I am also a bit skeptical about the dominance of hunting. As primitive omnivores, our earliest ancestors were primarily scavengers. Vegetable and plant matter should have been more prevalent and easier to obtain. Meat would have been a treat obtained by picking off remnants from true carnivores like tigers and lions. Until they figured out how to make tools and traps to catch smaller animals, then later larger animals like mammoths.

That said, hunting and trapping animals is very labor intensive and difficult. Many of the primitive hunts should have resulted in failure. Even with modern guns, hunts can end up empty handed. Early hunter/gatherer tribes probably would have leaned more towards gathering, than hunting. The prevalence of meat from a hunt is a bit overstated, imo. Curing and drying meat was the earliest method of food preservation so excess meat from a hunt could sustain them for a slightly longer period. Until herded and domesticated animals came on the scene in the neolithic age, a regular supply of meat was most likely uncommon.

Comment edited on: 5/19/2011 1:16:48 PM

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JUSTBIRDY 5/19/2011 12:45PM

    So funny! When I was a kid and we played cowboys and Indians, I always wanted to be the Indian, and then just quit fighting and live in a small camp.
I gave up playing with Barbie to have a bunch of trolls and a troll cave. Much more fun!
The paleo diet isn't necessarily high protein, but it is higher fat than most diets.
Many people of European descent also cannot eat lots of fruit due to fructose malabsorption.
Many paleo purists want to give up a food just because it has come on the scene more recently. Others take the approach that if it is new, but it is not a problem, then go for it. But, it is the end of the time that the vegetarian staple, "macaroni and cheese", is one of the four food groups, at least for me.

Comment edited on: 5/19/2011 12:45:57 PM

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VHALKYRIE 5/19/2011 12:26PM

    Yes, the book talks about the hunter/gatherer tribes of Africa eating meats, fruit and veggies. I think this would be a great method of eating for diabetics and insulin resistant people. People who are very obese or overweight. The elimination of most grains and starches, replacing with veg and fruit, should do wonders to help fix their metabolic issues.

For myself, I have already fixed most of my metabolic issues through diet, exercise, and losing weight. I've cut way back on my grain consumption, but not eliminated. Most of my carbohydrate calories comes from fruit and vegetables. So I think this would be a little too strict for me. Cheese, yogurt and beans are good supplements to my diet, so I cannot see myself eliminating them.

We are all a little bit different in terms of what our bodies responds to. I don't think it is out of the realm of possibility that some people burn carbs more efficiently than others. Others might respond better to higher protein. Most people of European descent have developed a tolerance to drinking milk, for example, while Asian people generally have an intolerance.

Comment edited on: 5/19/2011 12:37:16 PM

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ARCHIMEDESII 5/19/2011 12:15PM

    Ah, but here's what most Americans don't understand about the "meat" our ancestors ate. It was better quality meat. Those animals weren't being forced fed pellets. They grazed on plants that weren't tainted by pesticides and chemicals. They got some regular exercise ! ;) the fact is, unless a person is eating organic meat, the stuff we get at the markets is really low quality.

The meat our ancestors ate was so nutrient dense, it made up for the lack of veggies. Also, I read this somewhere that the peoples who do eat whale and seal meat are still getting their veggies albiet indirectly. the whales and seals eat plankton and sea plants for food. That enriches their flesh which our ancestors ate. So, indirectly, the Inuit were getting their veggies. ;)

If you think of the people's who roamed the other continents like Africa, they were hunter gatherers i.e. eating a combination of fresh fruit and whatever meat they could catch.

I have several Spark buddies who are doing Paleo and I've heard good things. Personally, I do not do well on a high protein diet. I do much better physically on a vegetarian based diet. Not that I'll be giving up my BBQ chicken any time soon ! LOL !!!!

Comment edited on: 5/19/2011 12:16:57 PM

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JAMES731 5/18/2011 7:41PM

    I love this blog, I had no idea this was even a "thing", if you will. thanks for sharing.

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Thoughts on my Meal Plan (Repost)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I've been trying to adjust my diet to Zone diet ratios of 40% carbs/30% fat/30% protein, but I've been having trouble reaching it. I'm getting closer to 60/20/20 consistently. My calorie goals are about 1300-1400. 1500 max.

If you aren't familiar with the Zone diet, it was developed by Dr. Barry Sears, who found that controling the hormonal response from foods eaten led to better weight loss results. The most well known hormonal response is the release of insulin. All foods have a glycemic index which measures how much and how quickly the body releases insulin to control blood sugar levels. Insulin is a fat burning inhibitor. The body will turn to glucose from carbohydrates first before it will turn to stored fat. Zone diet tries to reduce glucose levels from foods, so more stored fat is burned.

Zone diet isn't as restrictive as many of the low carb diets. Dr. Sears says many low carb diets miss the point. They ignore the hormonal response. The bad rap low carb diets are getting is the mistaken notion to eliminate carbs. Carbs are brain food. The brain is a carbohydrate lover. It is powered by glucose. The brain uses 20% of the carbs you consume. However, sugary foods have the paradoxal effect of depriving the brain of glucose.

I am not trying to eliminate carbs, just shifting where they came from. My carbs come primarily from fruit/veg, and high quality grain in small quantity. I don't buy processed foods anymore, so I am eating pretty clean.

On the zone diet, you eat 5 meals a day: breakfast/lunch/dinner and 2 snacks. There aren't any forbidden foods, but foods that you should enjoy infrequently or less of. Eat no more than 500 calories in a single meal. This isn't so different than a Spark recommended diet. The difference is in how the calories are allocated into carbs/fat/protein. Spark recommends 50c/30f/20p.

On the Zone diet, you have to figure out your protein requirements for your lean mass. You first need to know what your lean mass is by calculating body fat, then multiply by an activity level modifier.

Sedentary - multiply lbs of lean body mass by .5
Light activity (e.g. walking) - multiply by .6
Moderate (30 minutes of vigorous activity 3 days per week) - .7
Active (1 hour per day 5 days per week) - .8
Very Active (10 hours of vigorous activity per week - .9
Athlete - multiply by 1.0

For me, I require at minimum 70g protein per day.

Earlier, I made a post with my meal plan goals, but I made an error in calculating my meal planning macronutrient ratios. I've been trying to make a meal plan using Zone diet ratios of 40% carbs/30% fat/30% protein.

Well I made a pretty big mistake. I was trying to balance 40/30/30 ratios in grams.

Here's what I should be balancing.

1g Carbohydrates = 4 calories
1g Protein = 4 calories
1g Fat = 9 calories

My ideal zone ratios should be for 1400 calories:
Calories per day: 560 carbs/420protein/420 fat.
Grams per day: 140g carbs/105g protein/46g fat.
Grams per meal: 28g carbs/21g protein/9.2g fat.

I've been experimenting with my meals, trying to find the optimal menu to hit the 40/30/30 ratios. My meal plan has high quality carbs (fruit and veg, small amount of grain/starch) spread throughout the day. Here's a sample I've come up with:

This may be somewhat controversial to some people, but I try to exercise before breakfast. There is research showing people who exercise before eating burn more fat. Exercising in a fasted state also primes cells to be receptive to insulin. However, this is not for high performance training. Performance will suffer during fasted exercise. Do not try to do this before spinning or yoga class. Also, never, ever strength train this way.

My goal is to optimize fat loss.

Morning exercise at 6:30am.
7am Breakfast: Yogurt, blueberries, kashi cereal, and a little agave nectar to sweeten. 247 calories
10am Snack: Apple with cashew butter. Hard boiled egg. 245 calories
12pm Lunch: Black beans, cheddar cheese, 1/4c quinoa and salsa on a bed of lettuce salad. Watermelon for dessert. 383 calories
3pm Snack: Wheat crackers with ham slices and dijon mustard. 184 calories
6pm Dinner: 4oz ribeye, 50g potatoes mashed with dijon mustard and dill, steamed brussel sprouts, and side salad with lettuce, tomatoes and cucumbers. 355 calories

Target: 1400 calories, 140g carbs/46g fat/105g protein
Actual: 1413 calories, 146g carbs/50g fat/97g protein.

Target: 40% carbs/30% fat/ 30% protein
Actual: 41.07% carbs/31.65% fat/27.29% protein


My breakfast stays the same every day. It's just easier to not think about 'What's for breakfast' when I get up in the morning and just make it automatic. Snacks will stay pretty much the same. Lunch and dinner will vary, but I'll keep the types of food and proportions relatively the same. I cannot stand lack of variety for long.

Now I've got to go back and readjust my prior week's totals to correct my mistake. That might be why my weight loss stalled a couple of weeks ago. I was calculating my ratios wrong.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

THINRONNA 5/19/2011 2:42PM

    Wow! This is all pretty interesting! You are simply amazing! Your brain and all. The way you go at things is so very cool. I'm not ready for it but I am totally into that you are!

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VHALKYRIE 5/17/2011 11:11PM

    GLAMOURGIRL-9: LOL! Sorry, it did get a bit weighty there. ;)

Just try seeing how you feel. If you feel dizzy or nauseous at all, then stop. If you just feel like there are lead weights on your feet, then that's ok. When I work out before breakfast, I can't push as hard, and I don't try. I just do a low intensity workout. When I do my HIIT days, I eat beforehand, and I have lots of energy to push through.

Comment edited on: 5/18/2011 9:47:10 AM

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GLAMOURGIRL-9 5/17/2011 7:21PM

    Brain overload emoticon

I'll try seeing how i feel in the am . I don't know much about my hormones at this point.

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LADYROSE 5/17/2011 7:08PM

    YAY I can write all I want. LOL!

"I'm not talking about extreme fasting."

That's one thing, there's a big push in the paleo/primal community for intermittent fasting, and while 1) there's lots of benefits, and 2) it can come naturally... it's something that should not be a right out of the gate thing.

Most people have insulin issues going in and need to normalize those, then get the food dialed in to the point where you're just not hungry between meals (side note, that's one thing that was driving me buggy about the eating 5-6 meals a day. I felt like I was never actually satisfied and was always hungry... but I digress)

I was /always/ one of those people that couldn't imagine "forgetting" to eat... till I started to follow a more paleo-esque model for eating... then realized that not only was I not tearing through the kitchen for breakfast, it would be 1:00 and I'd be sorta kinda but not really start thinking about having lunch. Was kind of annoying, actually, to bring in food only to cart it back home again. LOL!

For me, I've _finally_ gotten to the point where I can tell that I should our shouldn't eat before a workout. I've had awesome early morning HIIT workouts both in the fasted and fed state. Sometimes I have a pre- and post-workout snack, other times I have something before, then am good till I can have a regular meal.

Doesn't get more "primal" than following your body's natural hunger cues.

The body is a pretty resiliant piece of machinery, and once you learn to listen to it rather than ignore it, the "rules" that have been seemingly set in stone end up seeming rather silly. :)

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VHALKYRIE 5/17/2011 5:23PM

    In case the last quote seemed a bit cryptic, GLUT4 protein content allows sugars to be absorbed into muscles without the assistance of insulin. It decreases the amount of insulin needed, and with less insulin, more fat is burned, and less fat is stored. Some researchers believe exercise before breakfast can help insulin resistant patients increase their insulin sensitivity. But, talk to your doctor!

Comment edited on: 5/17/2011 5:36:12 PM

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VHALKYRIE 5/17/2011 4:51PM

    From the paleo diet blog:


"Famine and exercise (simultaneously) decrease muscle glycogen and triglycerides stores increasing AMPK and GLUT4 expression. These two proteins are involved in glucose and triglycerides homeostasis, leading to an efficient storage of energy and increased physical performance. If hunting is successful, a replenishment of glycogen and triglycerides is produced. This is followed by a relative period of rest."

Our bodies were designed to burn fat from a fasted state in order to find more food. Assuming that we are hormonally and chemically balanced to begin with. (I say that with some hesitation because I don't want it to be misinterpreted. I'm only talking about exercising before breakfast when you are 'fasted' from sleep. I'm not talking about extreme fasting.)

However, the modern world has thrown many of us out of balance. Those who are obese and morbidly obese are in a state of chemical imbalance, and fat burn (and storage) doesn't work quite the way it should. The chemical imbalances need to be righted using different techniques.

Comment edited on: 5/17/2011 5:47:30 PM

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VHALKYRIE 5/17/2011 4:41PM

    Post as much as you want! I'll make more! LOL

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LADYROSE 5/17/2011 4:28PM

    Glamorgirl - I work out that early as well and end up with a small snack that is a mix of protein powder and apple sauce (acutally not too bad tasting, either. ;) Since I do shorter, but intense workouts, it's enough to give me some immediate use sugar & protein to sustain it... and my coffee helps, too. ;) You can also make a smoothie w/a little fruit, a bit of fat and protein powder - drink half before hand, half right after.

SparkBirdy - I totally want to stalk Dr. Eades... he's my hero! LOVE his blog!!

"And I would also say that people who can't do exercise before breakfast are probably primarily sugar-burners. When they switch to fat-burning, there is really no problem with doing even hours of walking before breakfast."

This is so true, too. I used to be one of those who /had/ to eat first thing, and now I've had times of not eating till 8 or 9, even on workout days. Usually if I'm going to be doing any sort of higher intensity stuff I do the light and easy to digest snack before hand, but if it's just lifting, I tend to go in caffinated but fasted. :)

There's lots of compelling examples of how fasted training is beneficial, but one of the biggest factors, aside from your insulin sensitivity, is your cortisol levels. If you've got a lot of stress, haven't addressed adrenal issues and have high cortisol levels, it's better to not do fasted training because that just raises the stress levels in your body too high and pretty much makes your workout counter productive.

Ok... will stop doing my own blog on your blog, Vhal. ;)

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JUSTBIRDY 5/17/2011 3:37PM

    Good you figured it out. I checked the math and it looks great!
I think Barry Sears is wrong on a couple of points. First, low-carb advocates absolutely DO focus on hormonal issues. Many are endocrinologists, and also recognize that the right amount of carbs can be different for everyone. Insulin wasn't discussed in the first edition of Atkins, but is a prominent feature of the Atkins revisions. The zone diet seems to be very well suited for the morbidly obese, and it may very well be that they do have a somewhat different body response to insulin/metabolism problems than others. That is, they develop extreme fat, instead of extreme fatty liver, or diabetes or heart disease first, and they might not have to lower their carbs all that much in order to fix it, as others do.
Second, while it is true that the brain uses glucose, it is not necessary to eat glucose in order to get it. Most people are perfectly fine making glucose out of protein. Most tissues can run on ketones, and some prefer it. There are no essential carbohydrates, only essential amino acids and essential fats.
Dr. Mike Eades, the author of the low-carb bestseller Protein Power, says he's good buddies with Dr. Sears, even though they disagree on these and a few other issues. Many low-carb bashers say the Sears diet isn't good because Dr. Sears isn't a real doctor. I think that's bunk. Sparkpeople still regards the carb level that Sears recommends as bordering on dangerous, but the truth is, this type of diet beats out the higher carb diets every time it is tested.
And I would also say that people who can't do exercise before breakfast are probably primarily sugar-burners. When they switch to fat-burning, there is really no problem with doing even hours of walking before breakfast. The fact that you are doing this so well probably indicated that you have licked any insulin problem you might have had.
What you can do with your tracker is to pick a future date, enter ONE sample meal, run the feedback for the day and the detailed plan, then go back and tinker with the amounts until you get the proper proportion, and then save it as a food group. It works like a recipe, only it is much much easier to make slight edits as you use it.

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VHALKYRIE 5/17/2011 3:28PM

    GLAMOURGIRL-9: It depends on what works best for you. Blood sugar is low in the morning since you are in a 'fasted' state. Some people will find it impossible to do any kind of exercise without a little pre-workout snack. This is also quite controversial - many people will disagree with me on this one. There are drawbacks and tradeoffs to snack or not to snack before a workout. There is research that shows more fat burn occurs during a workout in a fasted state. However, performance drops off. Your endurance and overall condition will not improve as much. So you have to chose one or the other. Either lose more fat, or improve your ability to workout better.

Personally, I do an alternating schedule to do both. MWF - light 30 minute steady state workout on eliptical without eating first. T-TH light breakfast, wait 30 minutes, then 20 minute high intensity interval training. When I am at goal weight, I will switch this routine to MWF HIIT, T-Th low intensity steady state.

While a pre-workout snack is optional, having a post-workout snack up to 30 minutes after is essential. A fairly high glycemic post-workout snack is the best. The reason is because your muscle glycogen is depleted during a workout. A carb snack post workout will restore your muscle glycogen quickly. Half a banana is a perfect post workout snack. The sugars and fat will restore depleted muscle glycogen. The potassium will help repair cells and mitigate sore muscles.

Comment edited on: 5/17/2011 3:56:53 PM

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GLAMOURGIRL-9 5/17/2011 3:09PM

    I am also trying to follow the Zone but doing the blocks.

It is challenging, especially just starting out. I came across the link Steph gave yesterday- it's fantastic. Best one i've found yet.

I was wondering about the eating before exercise myself, not that i am trying not to eat beforehand as i always had a half a banana.

It suggests to have a snack before working out but i am squeezing it in at 5:30 am and thought it was suggested to eat within 30 min. after your cardio. Unsure what is better ,to have something small and then wait 2-3 hours to have breakfast or skip until after the workout?


I'm grateful i ran across this blog! emoticon

Comment edited on: 5/17/2011 3:10:27 PM

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VHALKYRIE 5/17/2011 2:33PM

    That chart is perfect!! Thanks!

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LADYROSE 5/17/2011 1:50PM

    Here's a quick and easy overview for you: http://journal.crossfit.com/2004/05

Really don't like the photo they chose but whatcha gonna do? :)

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VHALKYRIE 5/17/2011 1:24PM

    LadyRose: I'll check that out! Thanks!

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LADYROSE 5/17/2011 1:22PM

    I had a much easier time hitting the ratios when I switched to the "Mastering the Zone" approach with the blocks... rather than just going with percentages. There are some folks who do well with the plate method, too, but being a numbers geek I liked knowing that X amount (oz, cup, etc.) of a food equaled 1 block.

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Saturday Short Hikes

Sunday, May 15, 2011

I'm back in my home state of Colorado for the week. While here, I'm trying to stay active. My best friend of the past 18 years has a goal to hike as many of the area hiking trails as possible. I'm so proud of her, and excited that she's taking an interest. It makes it easier for me to stay active while visiting, too.

Yesterday we went for a couple of hikes. We started early, and had to move quick. Forecast was for rain later in the afternoon. The sky was overcast and cool.

My best friend and I lived most of our lives in Colorado, but never really explored the area when we were young. Typical youth, I guess we figured we were too cool for it all. Never appreciated what was right in front of us. We are rediscovering the beauty that lived in our backyards all this time.

Our first hike was a short 2 mile loop to what was supposed to be a waterfall. We followed the sign posts, but then the trail ended abruptly. We were confused a moment, but then I realized we were standing where the waterfall was supposed to be.

Maybe it will be there during the summer run off. There is still snow and ice in the mountains. The weather hasn't been warm enough yet to melt it off.

We turned back, disappointed. But it was a nice easy, fast hike to get into the swing of things. I was concerned about whether I would adjust to the high altitude quickly enough (I have lived at sea level for so long), so I wanted to go slow. I felt fine. We decided to take a lunch break, then go for another short hike.

We stopped at an Indian buffet in downtown Colorado Springs. I filled up on a plate of salad greens with a little mint raita. For my second plate, I added just a little scoop of the tikka masala and vindaloo, plus small pieces of tandoori chicken. I used a small piece the naan bread to scoop up the tikka masala and vindaloo. Indian buffets can be calorie bombs if you overload on the curry, but I just enjoyed a small sample. Eating the large salad plate made sure I was full when I finished my curry, so I wasn't tempted to go back for more.

We then went on our second hike. We originally had a different destination in mind further north, but as we traveled the freeway, we could see the weather was getting worse in that direction. We turned around and went to another location near the first.

It was another easy, short, 2 mile loop hike. This one was higher up in the mountains, though, and for a short minute I could feel the low O2 levels in my lungs. We started slow, stopping frequently for rest and water breaks. I felt fine after we were moving.

We got to the top of the trail where there was a large flat plateau. We spent a few minutes taking pictures.

This rock is an optical illusion. It isn't really precariously sitting on the edge of a cliff! There is a another plateau on the other side. It isn't a drop off like it looks in the pictures...but we liked taking silly pictures with it because it looks like we're being dangerous!

We ended the afternoon by stopping by a local brew pub where my friend's SO works. We enjoyed a strawberry cider, then had sushi for dinner.

I slept extraordinarily well last night, and feel relaxed and recharged this morning. We have plans to do city hikes after work during the week.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ZURDTA- 5/16/2011 8:41AM

    Breathtaking scenery - oh my what a beautiful place for hiking!

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THINRONNA 5/15/2011 2:20PM

    Gorgeous pictures! You look so darn cute in them too! We had our first rainy day today so I did no hikes but it is fun to look at pics and read about yours!

Strawberry cider sounds wonderful!

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CARRIE1948 5/15/2011 12:19PM

    Way to go!!

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