Going Primal: Why and How (and What I’m Eating)

Going-Primal-Afri-love

I’ve been going primal/paleo for a little over a year but in the past couple of months, I’ve become more and more determined to make a more committed transition. I’ve been discovering more and more blogs on the subject, reading more inspiring success stories and experiencing more positive results (and negative ones too when I slip off-course). You may have read a couple of my posts on the subject already – I thought it would be good to preface any future posts with a little more background.

 

Why

To be healthier (that was easy hey?). In terms of losing weight. In terms of getting stronger and fitter. In terms of strengthening my immune system and reducing the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and a host of other all-too-common diseases and ailments.

 

How

Primarily through changing my diet. There is so much more to this lifestyle including exercise (but not how you’ve been led to believe is ideal), sleep, upping your vitamin D and play but, diet is the cornerstone.

I have a sweet tooth. I love desserts. I also love bread! Both these food types are serious no-nos and I am working on weaning myself off these addictions (I do not use the word “addiction” lightly). By training my body to become a fat-burning rather than sugar-burning machine, I will achieve these goals.

Some people get discouraged because the cost of “clean food” seems too high. Here’s a great post from Paleo Lifestyle Magazine that helps to put things in perspective: “Eating Healthy Doesn’t Have To Be Expensive So Stop Whining About It

My boyfriend and I have an account with Riverford Organic Farms – they deliver meat, veg, dairy (and occasionally wine) to our doorstep each week for what I think is quite a reasonable price. I just discovered Well Hung Meat and will be trying them out (they insist animals be grass-fed).

 

What I’m Eating


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How to resist temptation at events when going primal (or following any other unconventional diet)

Afri-love-Health

I recently posted about my 21 days without grains or sugar (and 21 reasons to try it yourself). In response to my challenges, my fabulous friend, artist and graphic librarian Crystal Antoinette Graham, sent me some encouraging tips on how to respond when temptation rears its seductive head while attending events.

As a vegetarian and vegan, Crystal’s had 16 years of experience in not having food to eat at events! Here are her top seven tips:

1. Eat a really filling meal before you leave
If you have kids, make them eat too. Even if you think you’re not hungry, eat anyway so your stomach isn’t fighting your morals.

2. And/Or bring your own food
Depending on the kind of event (formal, casual) and who will be there (family or strangers) either just bring it out (eventually people just realise you’re on a special diet and don’t bother trying to find things for you to eat) or be a little more discrete.

3. Learn how to say, “I’m not hungry” and change the subject
Or figure out some succinct way to explain that everything looks so good but you can’t eat it because of allergies (we ARE allergic to agricultural products), trying to lose weight, health reasons or just make it seem like some vague spiritual reason. Again, change the subject. A room full of happy diners is NOT the time to extol the virtues of your dietary philosophy.

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My 21 Days without Grains and Sugar & 21 Reasons to Try it

Afri-love-Health

The man and I recently undertook a challenge to go 21 days without eating grains or sugar (except in fruit form).

The initial couple of weeks were much easier than expected, perhaps because we’ve been trying to eat this way in general for a while. It did get tougher towards the end, particularly in the form of sugar cravings.

On the 20th day, due to poor preparation, we gave in. We had gone to an Olympics football match (2 games, 5 hours) and after a heavy breakfast, we thought we’d go the distance. Alas, the mid-match munchies got the best of us and, as you can imagine, suitable snacks were extremely elusive! Stodgy sausage roll it was (which, to my satisfaction, was unusually difficult to eat – could it be that I had succeeded in changing my taste for such?).

As you do, we decided to write off the entire day. Later on we had cake which was again, very hard to finish – it was sickly sweet to our taste buds.

As a forfeit for falling short of our 21 day goal, we added an additional 4.

Since the period ended, I’ve attended a baby shower, a wedding and been away on a pseudo-holiday (i.e. still working but in a very different environment: the Welsh countryside). These occasions have not been very conducive to a no-grains no-sugar diet. It’s also the week of my 30th birthday – another excuse to indulge! I do worry that I’m undoing any fat adaptation that I may have acheived and one of my gifts to myself will be to get back on track starting Monday.

I need to consider what is sustainable in the long-term. In The 4-Hour Body by Tim Ferris, he advocates having a “cheat day” – an entire day to go crazy with the indulgences. The man and I have tried this and felt terrible (physically so!). Instead, my goal will be to allow myself ONE “offensive” item each week.


21 reasons to try going without grains and sugar


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The Love Letter continues

The-Afri-love-Love-Letter-Continues

As much as this blog has been a love letter to the continent I call home, it’s also been an outlet for me to explore how to better (and better love) myself.

Blogger Brigitte Lyons puts it so well when she says, “if you want to change the world, better yourself first.” That was the thinking behind this whole Afri-love idea. In order for us to inspire, encourage, demand and create the changes we want to see in our continent, we have to first know, be proud of and love who we are and then, act from that position.

Overcoming the madness
Last year was the busiest year I’ve experienced. Getting a business off the ground is no joke and all the learning, administration, establishing of relationships, bidding for projects, servicing clients and actually doing the core work was a lot to handle. On top of all that, I attempted to blog every weekday and pursue other personal projects. At the end of the year I was exhausted and overwhelmed yet hopeful that the Christmas break would give me an opportunity to work on the things that usually get attention last.

I had a wonderful holiday with my family, who I don’t get to see very often. Wonderful but, not productive in the way that I had planned. January rolled around and it wasn’t exactly the fresh start I’d expected. I found this post from Miss Modish and I could relate, almost down to the word, with how she’d felt before she decided she needed to change things up, for her sanity and health.

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A test of strength & patience: the cycles of managing natural Afro hair

14-Months-Braid-out-Natural-hair-journey-Afri-love-5-days-later

In wearing your hair natural, you will experience cycles of manageable & why-am-I-putting-myself-through-this! That’s my story at least. It’s been just over 14 months since my last big chop and there have been several moments already where I’ve either mourned my locks or been tempted to chop my baby ‘fro off, all over again. But now, I’m glimpsing some light at the end of the tunnel and patting myself on the back for my resolve.

The big chop – a true taste of freedom
You can actually try this thing they call everyday washing without having to devote an extra half hour to shower time. You can literally wash ‘n go (as opposed to wash, detangle, deep condition, load up with product, style and then go).

Less-than-a-week-after-the-big-chop

Having your hair so short brings another flavour of liberation: it forces you to be as you are. There is less for you to hide behind – hair can be an amazing crutch. This was one of the reasons behind my last big chop and cutting my locks did actually have the results I desired. I look at pictures of myself 14 months ago and grimace at how big I’d become under that heavy mop of hair. Don’t get me wrong – I loved my locks but, they were giving me an excuse not to take better care of my body.

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Natural hair journey: length check & my current regimen, 10 months after the big chop

Natural-hair-10-months-on

It’s been a while since I’ve shared a hair update. Time flies and I’m so happy at how healthy my hair is growing. My current regimen goes like this:

  • Wash once a week:
    • Finger comb previous twist-outs and gently address any tangles
    • Pre-poo by putting coconut oil through my hair and massage my scalp
    • Wash with a sulfate-free shampoo (I currently use Giovanni Tea Tree Triple Threat shampoo)
    • Apply a rich conditioner through hair (I currently use Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Rose conditioner) and very gently detangle with a wide-tooth comb
    • Cover with a shower cap and wrap with a towel. Leave on for 1 – 8 hours. Basically depends on what I’m doing at the time!
    • Rinse out with cold water
    • Apply leave in conditioner (I use Kim Love’s recipe – find it in the intro box of her KimmayTube YouTube channel)
    • Apply a shea butter mix I created (with Jojoba oil and a few drops of essential oil to make it creamy
    • Two-strand twist away! (It takes me 2-3 hours)
  • Daily spritz with a water and oil mix (about 1 tbsp of Jojoba oil and/or vegetable glycerin in an approximately 150ml spray bottle)

I usually wash and twist on a Sunday or Monday and then take the twists out on Friday or Saturday. The twist-out can last 2-4 days. All I do in the mornings is spritz my hair with the water and oil mix, to bring life back to the sleep-matted tresses. Water works magic! Learning that I don’t have to avoid it is probably the best thing I’ve done for my hair.

One thing I’m not so happy about is how much work this all takes! I’m going to be honest here: I thought locs were a lot of work but, taking good care of my “loose” natural hair is so much more intensive. I don’t say this to discourage anyone considering going natural though because, after all is said and done, it’s absolutely worth it! Well, I think so at least.

Natural hair wearers out there – why is it worth it for you?

Book review: Ultra Black Hair Growth II

Ultra Black Hair Growth

An informative and relatively quick read, Ultra Black Hair Growth II: Another 6″ Longer 1 Year from Now by Cathy Howse helps to dispel several myths about black hair. Things that you probably heard while growing up, often from so-called professionals, and may have thus adopted as truth.

For example, that water is the enemy. Given that black hair has a tendency to be very very dry, water is actually what we need more of, being that moisture is water. Instead, people would have us believe that oil is the answer to dryness. I sure do remember the ritual of having my scalp greased when in fact, according to Howse, that’s the last thing we need. Our scalps naturally produce the necessary sebum. Another belief she challenges: that trimming is a solution to growing your hair. Another example of the elusiveness of common sense.

With sections tailored to those with chemically-treated hair, the book provides a good education for all and inspires you to envision that you can have long and healthy hair. For supplementary information, news, testimonials and more, visit Howse’s website.

Easy does it

Reflection

I’ve decided to do easy.

I remember something my Dad always used to insist when somebody was struggling with a machine or a key and so on: it’s been designed to work. His point was that, if we found ourselves exerting too much effort with little success, there was a strong possibility that we weren’t approaching it in the right way. Of course this assumes that indeed the machine, cupboard etc. has been well-designed but, the lesson remains: human endeavour, and the products of it, are based upon making our lives easier. Warmer, cooler, less stressful, more healthy… it all boils down to improvements to the way we run our lives, to the way our bodies run, to the way our societies ‘run’.

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Readiness (aka hair, health and wholeness)

Readiness

At the beginning of this year, I decided that instead of creating resolutions, I would come up with a mantra for 2010. One statement that would sum up my goals and inspire me to drive towards them enthusiastically. I decided that this year would be the year of “doing and discovering.” Vague, yet empowering. The fact that these three words encompass so much, meant that I was setting myself up to succeed, rather than setting myself up to fail.

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