Well, it looks like I have been on an unintentional sabbatical from writing here. I know I talked about re-branding my blog back in September, and then I disappeared! I was posting to my Facebook page, but well, between my two international trips to Europe in August and Bolivia in October, my Paleo lifestyle kinda flew out the window. So, guilt-ridden, my Cutting the Cheese persona went along with it.
The good news is, while I lost my way a bit in the nutrition world, I have started to find my way in the mindful world which is almost even better! I have been eating up a lot of literature about mindfulness, meditation, attachment/detachment, etc, and I’ve also been eating up a lot of processed food (eek!). But the great think about unintentionally swapping Paleo for spirituality of sorts is that I wasn’t beating myself up about the Paleo thing. I love eating Paleo, it makes me feel AWESOME. So let’s put it this way, when I don’t eat Paleo, my body punishes me enough with pimples, gas, muscle cramps, and sinus headaches. Do I really need to beat myself up mentally? First of all, fat shaming myself and others is incredibly harmful and sexist on many levels, check out Cranky Fat Feminist for some inspiration about that. Being mindful (NOT critiquing) of the way I’m thinking and feeling in any situation (food-related or not) has given me a way to examine my habits. Where do they stem from? What do I exactly say to myself? How do I react to other people/objects/situations/myself in these situations? How do I cope or ‘fill’ myself? With food? With TV? Talking to friends? Facebook? Clothes? Wine? I am guilty of doing all of these, and I have done my best not to judge myself for that. Because, well…how does that help anyone? Wait! It helps the fat loss industry, my bad 🙂
Cynicism aside (kinda), as cheesy as it sounds, looking at myself, my feelings, and my actions has been so valuable in the past few months. One can only wonder how beneficial that can be if done throughout a lifetime! Well, that’s my intention going forward. Looking at the ways I am broken has mended me. I’m not encouraging anyone to dwell on the past by trying to figure out what’s “wrong” with them. First of all, the binary notion of “right” and “wrong” is…well…wrong 😉 I just intend to express that we are beautiful in everyday, when we are heavier, lighter, depressed, joyous, eating Oreos, or eating kale. With that behind said, here is a newfound quote (new for me) that expresses the above:
There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in. – Leonard Cohen
There was a woman I used to meet through some mutual friends, and when I asked how she was, she would say on multiple occasions, “I’m just sad”. I just wanted to hug her, tell her not to be sad, talk about positive things in life, etc. I don’t have this urge any longer. While I would still love to give her a big hug, it would be in acceptance of her sadness, not because I desire to change her feelings. We all have a right to feel the way we feel. Sitting in our feelings is the single-most difficult yet transformative things we can do. The process of emotions can be so painful, yet the outcome can be quite beautiful.
In my self-exploration, I have started to truly love myself in a way I didn’t know was possible. And, a lot of it has been through not just examining myself, but observing others, staring at snowflakes, trudging through a snowstorm, working with a difficult client, locking my car keys in the car, listening to my mom talk about my dad who passed away a year ago…the list can go on. Now how the hell does that make any sense? Well, I have been seeing myself through the lens of other people, situations, objects, nature, while riding the bus, etc. And I see that there is an interconnectedness to everything when I am in the company of others or isolated by myself.
My path is ever-evolving and always in transition (aren’t all of ours?), and I am falling in love with it because I don’t know where it will lead me. However, I am certain that it will have a positive impact in so many areas of my life, including health. The idea of self-observation and self-love will hopefully allow me to be healthier in every aspect of my life whether it be food, exercise, self-talk, relationships with loved ones, and, most importantly,the relationship with myself. I will falter, I will deviate, because that’s just part of it.
As I re-read what I have just written, I thought to myself “Wow, I sound like some New Age hippie!”. Well, so be it. This is where I am now, and I’m just happy to be.
No, I’m not re-launching my site or anything yet, but as my thoughts and experiences with my health journey evolve through the way I eat, move, and think, my vision for “Cutting the Cheese” has evolved as well.
Initially, my thought was to create a blog name that would be refer to Paleo and also be punny. I think I succeeded. I do have to give credit to a close friend that helped me out, so thank you Jasmy 🙂 Cheese is something I LOVE, so I thought it was a perfect fit! However, as I learned more about Paleo, I realized that, yes, in the strictest sense, dairy isn’t “allowed”. But, as time went on, I stopped thinking of Paleo as a diet of restriction, and I started to see it as using food for nourishment. So, given this change, I started introducing dairy in my meals. While I do feel some effects from dairy, I am unaffected in moderation. So, I haven’t always had to “cut the cheese” out of my diet…however, that doesn’t mean I haven’t had to do it figuratively 😉
As I have I started looking at Paleo from a different perspective, I decided to re-brand my blog through a different lens. I believe most of us know what “Cutting the Cheese” means as an idiom. If not, feel free to find out here. The the meaning is funny in the sophomoric sense that many hate to love. It provokes laughter with a bit of discomfort – literally and figuratively 🙂
Recently, I started a Facebook page to go along with my blog. I tend to post a few times a day to this page by sharing some personal experiences as well as sharing information that I find helpful from other blogs/pages. Sometimes I share recipes or just general information about the Paleo way of eating. However, as I have mentioned before, I do see Paleo as a lifestyle. At the same time, I see eating processed foods and treating certain physical ailments with drugs, and not nutrition, as a lifestyle too. Paleo aside, I feel there are obvious sociopolitical conflicts that serve to profit companies that the modern world just accepts. This makes me uncomfortable…very uncomfortable. I didn’t want to believe it. I don’t want to believe it. But I have to believe it. The Food Pyramid, FDA guidelines, GMO’s, yadda yadda are all politically and economically motivated and most of us either want to ignore it, minimize it, or simply believe that the government and big food companies have our best interests at heart. As an individual, I cannot solely change the current political, economic, or food systems. However, it would be silly for me to not recognize the motivation and manipulation of these systems. If everyone realized how they were being manipulated, they would probably be uncomfortable.
Another area I have felt passionate about is self-love when it comes to body image and what we think about ourselves. I have definitely struggled with body image in many ways that I hope to share in future posts. In the past couple months, I have been able to move past a lot of my insecurities and get to a point where not only do I love myself and my body more than before, but I have also realized that I was making excuses about why I didn’t think I was insecure in the first place. Again, this was uncomfortable. Loving who I am, as I am, is uncomfortable. Do I have a Victoria’s Secret model body? NO. Have I lost as much weight as I would have initially liked? NO. A year ago, these answers would have made me very uncomfortable. But, I’m happy to say, that I’m much more happy in my skin, as is, than before. Does that mean I don’t want to lose weight or that I don’t think I would be as attractive if I lost more weight? No, not at all. My priorities have just changed. My goal is health first, and, as Jason Seib says, to look “hot by accident”.
Lastly, I have started to make some changes in my daily routine to include meditation, prayer, and asking for help when I feel I need support in my life. Stress management is a huge part of lifestyle and if affects our bodies immensely. Here is a great summary about stress and adrenal fatigue: The Real Deal On Adrenal Fatigue by Robb Wolf. Making changes to daily habits is difficult. After all the Merriam-Webster definition of a habit is “a usual way of behaving : something that a person does often in a regular and repeated way”. So making changes in our busy, stress-filled lives, especially to slow down and let go of certain outcomes through mediation, prayer, or what have you, is hard and uncomfortable, but it is also very beneficial. I’m not talking about being a yogi and sitting on a mountain in lotus position. These are changes you can make throughout the day in the comfort of your home, but, to do so, priorities have to change.
I’m evolving/re-branding this blog by pushing through uncomfortable barriers and becoming more aware, accepting, and comfortable being uncomfortable! I still do plan to post recipes, etc to have some balance and fun 🙂
Enjoy and feel free to comment about this change!
Well…I have to start with an apology for dropping the ball on my blog. I returned from India in January with a heavy heart. A trip that was supposed to be joyful turned out to be very sad. My parents traveled there as well, and my dad became very ill. He unexpectedly passed away in the city where he grew up, Mumbai. So, as you all can imagine, this has been a trying time for my family and me.
Currently, I’m helping my mom cope with the aftermath while working part-time. This hasn’t allowed much time for “me”, and the stress definitely brought upon total derailment in the food and exercise department. However, I’m happy to say, that while this is a hard time for my family, I’m doing the best I can to take care of myself inside and out. It took a month of crappy, crappy eating and barely exercising, but I’m back into a groove in terms of diet…and I’m working on getting back to the exercise.
One area I’ve become really passionate about since I came back is trying to understand the science behind the whole Paleo philosophy. It has helped give me a lot of perspective and more reason to continue along this path. It all started with listening to some GREAT podcasts. First I started listening to the “Healthy Skeptic” Chris Kresser’s podcast Revolution Health Radio. Then I became obsessed with the Balanced Bites podcast hosted by Diane Sanfilippo and Liz Wolfe, and Everyday Paleo Lifestyle and Fitness podcast hosted by Sarah Fragoso and Jason Seib. These podcasts have their own flavor in terms of perspective, personality, and content. I love listening to them on my drives to and from work. All this has basically made me realize WHY I feel so great with the Paleo lifestyle and why I should continue to live this way 🙂
I really want to get into everything I have been doing, but I will stop for now. I just wanted to catch you all up on what’s been going on in my life and why I have been so absent. It was definitely temporary…just a part of my journey 🙂
I can’t believe it’s been over a month since I have blogged! This past month has been pretty crazy with more going on at work and prepping for my trip to India! Yes…that’s right! In one week, I will be on a plane heading to India with my family. I’m VERY excited about this trip. I have been to India four times in the past, but I’m really excited about this trip because I will be meeting a lot of my husband’s family and my brother-in-law, sister-in-law, and three beautiful nephews are coming as well! I’ve never traveled to India with them before (I haven’t gone with my husband yet either), so it should be a lot of fun 🙂
How does this all play into my health plan? Well…the past month’s activities have, unfortunately, cut into my personal journey towards better health. I haven’t really lost any weight. I probably gained a little bit, but that’s not even what I care that much about. I kind of just lost sight of things because…well…life is hard to balance. The changes I’ve had at work were great for my work life. However, this came at a cost of not being able to go to The Dailey Method as much because I was now working during the classes I usually attended. Since I have focused so much on those classes, I didn’t put much of an effort towards doing anything at home. In terms of food, well…I have definitely tried to keep it up, but let’s just say that I had a lot of dessert at a wedding reception last night! My will and Paleo decision-making has someone gone down the drain. One reason I haven’t been beating myself up too much about it is because it will be impossible to live up to my Paleo lifestyle in India. None of my relatives eat meat, and eating it going to be very central to the trip. Let’s just say that family in India LOVE to feed you. I’m going to enjoy this, however, I’m also going to make sure I feel satisfied rather than full. I also didn’t want to do Paleo for the past few weeks and then totally shock my system when I’m in India when I will inevitably be eating a lot of grains and carbs.
Anywho…one thing this past month has taught me is that balance, while very important, is very hard! That doesn’t mean I’m giving up though! I have always said this is a journey. My weight loss is not going to be perfect, life isn’t perfect. The great thing about this is all the great lessons I learn about myself in the process. I am trying to keep a positive outlook, because a positive MIND is what is going to help me with my healthy lifestyle.
In the next week before I head to India, I’m going to eat a “regular” diet with grains, carbs, etc. I am still going to avoid processed food. One question I’m going to ask myself is “Am I really hungry?” I read a lot about this concept from the book Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program that Works by registered dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch. This is a great book about our hunger signals. I have noticed that my hunger signals can mean a few things: I’m thirsty; I’m bored; I’m stressed; or I really am hungry. I’m going to evaluate myself before making these decisions. I am usually pretty satisfied throughout the day when I start my day by drinking 10 to 20 oz of water and continuing to drink water all day. So, I think this will be the best way for me to eat this week and while I’m in India as well.
So, there ya have it! I plan to post that Pre-Made Paleo review I promised a few months ago before I leave! Sorry for slacking on that.
Thankfully, I have kept to my goal from my last post to attend Dailey Method classes 5 days a week! However, I definitely did a lot of overindulging the week of and weekend after my birthday. It is what it is, and, while I’m not happy I did it, it made me realize how far I have come. Even though I overdid it, I was easily able to get back into the groove of things the following week. Before, I would have just given up or found another sweet substitute for the sweets I really wanted. So, that’s that! I’m back into the Whole30 groove with an occasional indulgence 🙂
This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending a workshop at The Dailey Method about taking your practice to the next level. It was taught by Natalia, who I remember from when I took my first classes back in 2010. She has been teaching these classes for three years, and she is great! She always has a big smile on her face and gives great detailed instruction. Here is some of her background, taken from The Dailey Method site:
Originally from Puerto Rico, Natalia began training in ballet at age 4. She continued her training throughout high school and into college at the University of Illinois, where she discovered modern dance. She currently lives in Chicago where she dances with the Leopold Group modern dance company and works as a dance teacher, in addition to her work as a fitness instructor. She teaches modern dance at the North Suburban School of Dance, and is a teaching artist for the Joffrey Ballet’s Community Engagement Program. Natalia began taking classes at the Dailey Method in December 2008, and began teaching in March 2009. She is very excited to be a part of the Dailey Method family, and to be doing what she loves!
It was challenging to take pictures from my phone and take notes while trying to participate in the workshop, but I tried my best! I definitely learned a lot which has helped me this week during classes. The running “theme” throughout the workshop was the importance of form, especially for the back muscles. During class, I always hear teachers talking about engaging the rhomboids and serratus anterior muscles in the back…I knew they were muscles in the back, but I didn’t realize how important it is to strengthen them. These muscles pull the shoulder blades/scapula down and back, which helps with opening the chest and gives us better posture. Here’s a great diagram:
I am definitely a sloucher…when I stand, while I sit (I just corrected myself while typing now, hehe), and also sometimes when at The Dailey Method! I thought I always had my shoulder blades back and down like I am always instructed, but there were a few positions I wasn’t doing so. One of those positions is the plank! I didn’t realize how much I “slouched” and brought my shoulders forward instead of back with planking. Natalia talked about how important it is to engaged the back muscles because this works the back instead of being rigid and going into the neck. When the strain is no longer in the neck, the abdominals work harder as well! Everything is connected 🙂 Here’s a pictures of Natalia teaching while someone demonstrates a doing a plank with the shoulders in the correct position:
Here is Natalia demonstrating downward dog incorrectly (top) and correctly (bottom). Here, it is easy to see the difference in the shoulder placement.
Not only does this work the serratus anterior to strengthen your back, but it also strengthens the Achilles, stretches your calves and hamstrings. Natalia gave a great visual to help make sure your shoulders are in the correct position: Pretend you are opening two jars with your hands without moving them. It might sound silly, but it worked for me!
I also learned my Low C Curve position can be so hard for me as opposed to High C Curve. I have a very short torso, so it’s hard for me to reach my thighs without straining my neck when I’m so low to the ground. I’m really glad I learned this because I was beginning to think something was wrong with me! I was happy to learn that I am A-OK 🙂
One thing Natalia kept emphasizing throughout the workshop was that all of our bodies are different in terms of shape, flexibility, muscle tightness, etc. Some positions are easier and harder for some of us than others. We need to find what works best for us as individuals! This was a key takeaway for me. The instructors always say this in class as well. However, even though I know I shouldn’t compare myself to others, it’s hard not to while I see others class do complicated movements while they are holding a plank. However, when I focus on myself, my form is better, I become stronger, and I get better!
Overall, the workshop was very clarifying and reinforced why I go to The Dailey Method! Great instruction, impeccable form, and an amazing workout. Period.
My birthday is soon approaching, and it’s making me think about where I really want to be in my life right now in terms of my physical health. I feel that in the past 6 months, I have made great improvements to my life including being aware and ACCEPTING my eating behaviors (sugar obsession and overeating), working out at The Dailey Method pretty regularly, and transitioning to a Paleo/Whole30 eating lifestyle.
However, in the aftermath of my first Whole30, I have gained a couple pounds back, and I have also started to reduce my workout frequency from 4 days a week minimum to 3 days a week. Soooo back to where I want to be in my life….I really want to lose some more inches. Working out 3 days a week, is definitely maintenance mode in my head. Therefore, I am planning to increase the frequency of my workouts to 5 days a week. Given my schedule, I think this is a fair and feasible schedule change. While I don’t plan on being super strict for Whole30, I do plan on following the guidelines for the most part with the occasional indulgence.
I once read that in terms of health, food > sleep > exercise (I think it was on the Whole9 Facebook page). I feel that sometimes I wasn’t exercising because I wasn’t sleeping as much. So, I am going to put a change to that! I plan to be in bed every night by 10:30pm, so I can get up and workout feeling rested. I really think I’ll notice a difference with this subtle change. I did a quick Google search about workout frequency (I’m so scientific!), and I came upon this site. The picture I first saw (below) scared the crap out of me, but I liked the idea of the article. (No, I don’t want to look like him…not that there’s anything wrong with that!)
Basically, it talks about the frequency of strength training you need to make different types of changes in your body. It also emphasizes the importance of muscle recovery. I love that The Dailey Method has a combination of isometric strength training and low-intensity cardio! I really feel like I’m getting it all in one class 🙂
Speaking of The Dailey Method, I’m excited to announce that I will be attending a Dailey Method workshop next weekend about taking my practice to the next level! This should be really great, and I’m looking forward to blogging about it. Also, I have been struggling with preparing Whole30 meals ahead of time with my work and personal schedules…so I started looking into Pre-Made Paleo meals that I can heat up and eat. I’m excited to announce that I am going to be receiving some of their meals to review on this blog! I’m super excited about these upcoming posts, and I hope you are too 🙂
Here are a few questions for you all:
1. Have any of you noticed any changes to your body by increasing the frequency of your workouts?
2. How/when do you manage to make meals ahead of time for yourself and/or your family?
3. Do you believe in or practice “food > sleep > exercise” in terms of order of importance? Why or why not?