Friday, 27 December 2013

An exercise in mindfulness

I spent Christmas day alone.

Don't feel sorry for me, I could have spent it with family but opted to spend the day alone. It's horribly easy to get down in situations like this. It's all too easy to feel the pressure to be with people at Christmas and in turn to feel lonely when you aren't.

I read a quote recently and it was able how in English we have two words to describe the two sides of being on your own; solitude to describe the joy of being alone and loneliness to describe to dark side of being alone. Something to that affect anyway.

I feel like mindfulness is about examining the here and now, even whilst working towards something. I didn't spend my Christmas day comparing myself with what I might have been doing, or what I had done in the past, I focused on the moments which made up my day. I had control of the remote (and being Christmas and having the ability to record stuff to then watch later) I could enjoy watching some tv. I also enjoyed going out for a walk with my dog back in our old village. Despite the rain and the wind and the cold I got to enjoy running around with my dog. I read. I watched the Doctor Who Christmas special. I then did my washing up before watching some classic Doctor Who. Everything was on my schedule and this allowed me to focus on things I enjoyed. It wasn't big, it wasn't flashy, it was quiet and simple and an exercise in mindfulness.

There are many situations in life where we can look at them in different ways. Being alone can be a joy or it can be a horrible time of loneliness.

I spent Boxing Day with family. I felt pangs of sadness when I left them to walk to my car but then I looked up at the beautiful colour of the darkening sky, noticed the cool freshness of the air I was breathing, the weight in my hand of the bag full of presents I had been given and I felt blessed. What a wonderful moment in time.

I hope you all had a good Christmas, however you spent it.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Maybe this time I will post something I write . . .

So since I got out of hospital nearly a month ago I have written out a few posts and then meant to come back the next day to editing and share.

In short - surgery mostly went well. I got haemotoma on one side, so I spent a total of four days in hospital. Lessons I have learnt for future hospital stays include taking a food parcel in with me, along with a sim card for my phone with a massive amount of data allowance plus something like my kindle. I was on twitter and facebook a lot whilst I was in hospital and also read LOTS. The less said about hospital food the better. All I'm going to say at this point is that there was far too much gluten and no where near enough protein or vegetables.

Since I got home I have slowly regained movement but my energy levels have been pants. I was struck today by the thought that maybe part of my problem is withdrawal from my anti-depressant. Aside from the withdrawal stuff there is now no need for me to be on medication for depression. I now need to decide whether to carry on with the withdrawal or whether to go back onto medication and just get my feet back under me after surgery.

One thing I have managed to do with my time is read. I think I'm on my 8th book since I went into hospital. Some of them have been novellas, but I have also read Rosemary's Baby, Pinocchio, A Doll's House and am now on The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Yeah I've been playing with those lists of top 100 books and realised that I really wished that I had read more.

The real downside of surgery has been that now my belly sticks out more than my chest. All that stupid comfort eating.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Poly culture and keyholes - summers over

As I explained earlier in the year I have been experimenting with poly culture beds and a keyhole bed. My keyhole bed isn't a proper keyhole bed (no keyhole) but does include the principle of a central compost heap providing nutrients and water to the rest of the bed.

This summer started wet and then get hot and dry. My radishes and lettuces bolted for this reason. They were both in the main (normal raised bed) and I was lazy when it comes to watering. When it was really hot and sunny I think I used a lot of water and lugged several watering can fulls of water over to the main bed. Stuff bolted because I got lazy. It was no great loss about the radishes - housemate likes them but I don't, and the chickens LOVED the greens. I did get a lot of salad out of the main bed before it was all too far gone. Although I pretty much had one harvest after another (limited choice) it felt like I got a lot out of each harvest. The main bed really did suffer from a lack of water. I had added a water butt to the garden but in another spell of long, hot weather like this one I don't think it would be very long before it would run dry.

As for the keyhole bed and water it was a dream come true. When it was very wet water drained out of the bottom and when it was dry it kept plants watered as long as I kept the compost topped up regularly with stuff that had a high water content. There was a dry crust to the soil but below the crust it was moist, the soil was a mix of homemade and bought compost. Early in the summer I had a couple of tomato plants in a pot. They were dying because I couldn't get enough water to the roots. I put them both in a corner of the keyhole bed. One was too far gone by the time I moved them but the other took off happily. From that day to last weekend when I pulled the last of the tomatoes off before they rotted off, I did not water them once. Not once. Normally growing tomatoes means careful water management, but the bed did all of that for me. A lovely example of "look after your soil and your soil will look after your plants". I only got one or two off the plant ripe and ready to eat, you can see the rest below. Not bad for a plant which wasn't watered. But as you can see most of them are green rather than red, I blame the nasturtiums.

The picture below shows why I blame the nasturtiums. Actually I blame myself, I didn't realise how much they would grow and grow, but as you can see they did a good job of taking over and limiting the sunlight for the rest of the bed. The fence is on the east side, it's in the house's shadow during much of the day, and the nasturtiums limit the light getting through for the rest of the day and into the evening. I will grow tomatoes again next year, but I will give them a spot which gets more light.

Despite the challenges of light there are some lovely beetroot in there, the lettuce grew okay, and aside from the caterpillars the kale's okay too. About the only thing which didn't grow well was the green beans. I was expecting them to do well because there's a lot of carbon in the bottom layer of that bed, but apparently not. I'll try again next year and see how they do. Ah, the pak choi wasn't the happiest in there, so that's two things. This became the adopted home for a number of my plants. The tomatoes, then kale and then some chard plants being sold cheap at the garden centre. I'm really happy with the way it's gone. Plants would have benefited from more light, but as it's needed no watering and until recently (as things have thinned) no weeding I will say that I feel that this is about as simple as I could make gardening. My techniques need improving but the method is sound.

The poly culture bed. 
Currently it's been taken over by marigolds, and I think they've now self seeded themselves too. 
Unlike the keyhole bed, which was mainly filled with bought plants, this was largely sown all at the same time. Despite how tightly packed everything is, it has felt like a productive bed. Next year I will grow fewer lettuces and radishes, more carrots, no marigolds, and I haven't planned what else yet. The only "weeding" that has been required has been from the wheat which self seeded from the straw mulch and removing plants that have finished. The sprouted wheat, the radish tops, odd lettuce leaves etc have all gone immediately to the chickens so I wouldn't really say that I weeded as they were all useful. Chickens learnt to stick their heads through the chicken wire to pick stuff, and the bamboo frame kind of really fell apart a fair bit. The soil has shrunk a fair bit so I will add compost to the top at some point in the winter. Thanks to the chickens I have a fair bit to add from the compost point. 

These beds, and this style of gardening might not have yet produced me too much in the way of food, but it has required very little of the way of maintenance. In return I've had enough salad for myself and to share, the joy of freshly picked carrots and beetroot, chicken food, a constant pesto base, flowers, and the pleasure of looking out into my garden and seeing my own mini jungle. Now for next year I just need to get those chickens enclosed but happy so life isn't just confined to caged areas.  

For more information of how I originally constructed these beds please see this post:

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Enjoying the sun - paleo style

Paleo is so much more than just about diet. In the Paleo Solution Robb Wolf talks about food, but also exercise, stress, sleep, and spending time with fellow human beings. At the moment in the UK we're experiencing probably the longest sunny spell we've had in a couple of years. Warm and sunny after a year or more of near constant rain is a welcome thing. We Brits are used to our inconsistent weather and when good weather comes our way we yearn to be out in the sunshine, making the most of it whilst it lasts. I'm combining our natural tendency with some paleo-based advise.

Safely enjoying the sunshine - do I need sun screen?

"Prehistoric men and women didn't wear sun screen!"

There wasn't a gurt hole in the ozone layer in prehistory! 

Sunshine. UVB. It lets our bodies produce Vitamin D but also burns our skin and damages DNA. The key to enjoying sunshine safely is that we need SOME exposure to sunshine without sun screen blocking the light necessary for us to make the very important Vitamin D BUT not so much that it damages the skin. Either limit the time spent in the sunshine, cover up, or wear sunscreen (after getting a bit of exposure to produce some Vitamin D). I found this advice that has been signed up to by parts of the NHS and some important charities. The gist of it is pretty much - Vitamin D is important, get some sun exposure between 11-3 during the summer, but by some we mean about 10-15 minutes if you're white (times will be longer for those who aren't white, but they don't provide any further guidelines). My personal experience is that if I build up my exposure then I can gradually tolerate longer periods in the sun without burning. This seems to be the experience of Loren Cordain as well judging by his second book. 

What shall I do in the sunshine?

It's not terribly paleo to spend your sunshine time sunbathing. It is a brilliant opportunity to get outside and PLAY. Have a kick about, throw a frisby, play tennis or play golf. Or if you're feeling adventurous then go for a hike or bike ride, or go horseriding, go climbing, or canoeing, or sailing, or walk a camel (or the dog). 

If you can't get far from home then maybe just go for a walk locally, possibly even barefoot. Or do some yoga outside. Or have a picnic in the garden (with a friend or two if possibly). Spend some time watching the wildlife around you. Take time to notice the song birds in the garden, the amasing way that plants seem to almost grow before you eyes at the moment. If you're lucky enough to be able to get further from home to watch wildlife, please do. Understanding the natural world around us was vital to our ancestors, and doing now helps slow you down and reduces stress (which hey - is a good thing). Nature is also beautiful and a little bit of fresh air and sunshine does wonders for one's well being. 

Last but not least I want to suggest that people use the sunshine as an opportunity to get out to local events, support local businesses and get involved in your local community. Community was vital to our ancestors and it's still hugely important to our mental health. 

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Paleo meets permaculture, all in my tiny garden

After the chickens ate all my seedlings I replaced the bird netting with chicken wire, and so far so good. However I'm only just seeing stirrings of seedlings so I have decided that my chickens are going to be shut away most of the time now, until everything is a bit more established and able to survive them. I decided to take the opportunity to mulch the bed and as it was windy I threw some twiggy bits on to hold it down. It was a heart breaking process not least because I had used the last of things like beetroot seeds and not wanting to buy more I had to sow some second choice stuff instead.

This weekend we've had both some beautiful weather and a bank holiday. I was feeling impatient. I wanted more stuff growing and I wanted to spend some time in my garden. My courgette and squash seedlings had died (my last squash seedling died following a cat deciding my self watering container with my seedling in looked like a great place to toilet), so I wanted to buy some replacements because it wasn't looking like any of my other seeds were going to germinate. My local garden centre didn't have any squash or courgette plants so I will seek some out at a local plant sale at the end of the month. I ended up buying some dwarf french beans and beetroot plugs. What then followed was me changing plans, doing some quick research, and creating a new bed almost completely from scratch.

This is the original bed, replanted with some beetroot added. You can't tell from the picture but there are now many small seedlings pushing their way up. So it seems that I've only been put back a few weeks, so all is not lost.

As well as my larger beds I also have one small bed that is 1m x 1m. It has been sat for quite a long time now kind of propped up and around a couple of roses. It's had some old mini fence across it and the chickens have enjoyed roosting on it. I've been worrying about the fact that I only have one compost heap and no room for more. I have been reading a bit for the last couple of weeks about keyhole gardening and hugelkulture. Both styles of beds are low maintenance and help get extra nutrients into the soil. I had half a big bag of sawdust which had been sitting round for about six months. It had been sat round because it was chicken bedding but it started to spoil so it was left to be slowly added to the compost heap. Whilst it was waiting I had been adding personal nitrogen to it to help break the wood down. Hugelkulture uses wood as part of a style of sheet mulching, and keystone beds include a compost heap and compensate for the loss of space by having a slope up to the basket/bin. I had paper for the bottom layer, I had wood for the next, I had well rotted cow manure for the next and plenty of compost for my top layer. Everything was ready to go.

I kind of wish I had taken photos as I went, but some of the work was done after it started to get dark, so they wouldn't have come out very well anyway. This is the bed after it was filled and planted. There's paper in the central basket as it helps keep the compost out and will itself rot down. I added some pak choi, lettuce and nasturtium seeds as well, before making the whole thing chicken proof (hopefully). As it's a poly culture bed everything is fairly tight together as I will thin out as everything matures. French beans are also known as green beans and whilst they have bean in the name what you eat is mostly pod rather than bean so are ok in a paleo diet. They also provide valuable nitrogen. Legumes are a simply and useful way to add nitrogen to the soil (something other veg badly need) but obviously they aren't included in a paleo diet so green beans are a good choice. Next year I might grown runner beans for a similar reason, or I might just feed the beans to the chickens. I don't have to eat everything that my garden produces, if I feed it to my chickens it's still producing food (and with the chicken they also produce manure, which is also more nitrogen).If I didn't have chickens then I would be getting ready to give away lots of beans. 

All the beds have been planted with some permaculture principles in mind. Polyculture, forest gardening (different layers), keyhole, hugelkulture, plus providing flowers (calendula and nasturiums) for insects such as bees and food for my chickens. It's about seeking the most food from a small space for least effort whilst giving something back to the world around me. I have seen the argument that the world is only able to support the numbers it does because of industrial agriculture is an argument against paleo being able to be long term or something many people will be able to do. A pocket permaculture farm in my tiny little garden is an example that we can feed people without GMO, without crazy fertilizers, and without carving up yet more land to drain of nutrients. Nutrients and sustainability are important things aspects of paleo. If you don't agree with me, then I suggest you take it up with Robb Wolf.

I don't have space for livestock larger than chickens but that's ok because I can source pretty good meat anyway. This garden should give me fresh, nutritious and tasty veg in the weeks and months to come. I'm really looking forward to those salads. 

Links, for more information:

Monday, 22 April 2013

A rollercoaster of a week

I don't know how much of this I've talked about this before, but here's a little bit of transition news. If you're not interested then just skip down, I have some food stuff further down.

A year ago my therapist and my consultant agreed that I could go for chest surgery, for a double mastectomy and chest reconstruction. The folks responsibility for funding decisions in my area decided that although I fully satisfied the international recommendations, and the recommendations of the specialist commissioning board, the primary care trust decided that I had to undergo two years "real life experience" (RLE). I'm not going to go into the arguments for and against RLE, but at the time that my clinic agreed that I was ready I was 10 months into my RLE and doing well. NOT having chest surgery has a very negative affect on my health. My mental health has just really gone down hill from the moment that I was told no. My physical health has suffered from the day I started binding full time. It affects my breathing, leaves not just red marks from where it most compresses and rubs, but white marks where the blood hasn't been able to flow into all my skin properly, I get headaches, a bad back and my posture is affected. However the way that work in the NHS is commissioned has changed from 1st April this year so the PCT is no more and I am no longer at their whim. I saw my therapist just over a week ago and rather scared him with how much hope I'd lost of ever getting any further progress with my transition. My depression has become quite bad, despite being paleo and despite being on medication. So he agreed that he'd do some research and chase up about my referral letter for me to try and get things moving along. In the mean time I had a consultation in London with a surgeon about lower surgery. Yeah seriously I've seen the surgeon about my lower surgery before I've seen a surgeon about my chest. No that's not normal but is in fact a sign of just how messed around I've been by the system. So that consultation was on Monday. I was really excited. Firstly at the thought of life after surgery and secondly because he'd given me more options than I was expecting, and an option that would likely to give me better results than I was expecting. So I was kind of riding that high all week, until I got home from work on friday. There was a letter from my therapist. It would seem that he's misunderstood which surgeon I had requested for my chest surgery and has now thrown me into turmoil because I'm second guessing my choice again, even though my choice was made months ago. So from a real high to a real low, all in the space of a week. And because it's such a failure as misunderstanding my choice of surgeon it's so messing with my head there's not space for much else, so I'm rather phasing in and out of what's going on around me at the moment. That said, I'm still working, I'm still trying to eat well, and I'm still exercising. I'm a bit practised at continuing my life through heart ache, depression and anxiety.

Back to Paleo and simple living stuff!!!

Always on the look out for ways to make my life simpler, and always on the look out for a bargain, when I walked round the supermarket this weekend picking up special offer veg I had a brainwave!

I picked up courgette, aubergines and tomatoes on special offer. Since tinned tomatoes, carrots and onions are all cheap anyway, I decided to cook up a big batch of sauce to provide veg for a few days. When I cook I don't like trying to multi-task so I chop everything up all at the same time and are displayed in the photos above. You also get to have a good nose at my kitchen. If you look carefully you can see the not more than 2 days old eggs, the local organic cider vinegar, and the latest batch of sauerkraut. You can also see the rice noodles, the sugar for my many cups of tea, and the fact I have too many chopping boards. 

Before I go, I thought I'd share one more picture with you. This one is of an bronze bowl from Iron Age Devon (I live in Devon) that is on display in the British Museum. 

It's probably ceremonial, but maybe it was used for cooking. It's a bit beautiful anyway. This is as a reminder that when we talk about people in the past, and how they did stuff, we're not talking about some hypothetical people but living, breathing people with hope and worries and concerns just like we have. They might have hoped and worried about different things, but we can't just reduce them to diet and exercise.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Sorry for my absence.

My computer decided that it didn't want to work. I've been using my housemate's laptop to do things like twitter and facebook and generally trying to keep up with the world, but sharing a computer in very limited time means I've had to neglect this blog. My computer still isn't fixed, but I do have a bit more time over the bank holiday so hopefully I will get this written and published for you before the end of the weekend.

My subtitle for this post is: Grab a Bargain When You See it.

A couple of weeks back I happened to pop into Waitrose to pick up some more milk (I buy Duchy Original milk because it's organic, non-homogenized and the 2 litre cartons seems to always be on offer). Since I was in there anyway I decided to look round for reductions on meat (there's little in my local Waitrose I can afford to buy that isn't on offer or reduced). I came across some lamb mince that worked out to about £4/kg. Yeah seriously. It was of those "I wish I liked lamb more than I do" moments. Thankfully my housemate likes lamb and I cook for both of us. Housemate is spending more time away for work at the moment so I grabbed some and took them home to cook.

The picture below shows the packaging and the meatballs ready to bake.

I decided to turn them into meat balls because these can then be eaten as snacks or refried or added to veg in a pot to make a kind of soup. I was inspired by Practical Paleo's spiced lamb meatballs. In with the minced lamb I added salt, pepper, cumin, and cinnamon (Diane's mix probably tastes better but I didn't have everything to hand, check out Practical Paleo if you want the proper recipe). I then baked, cooled and froze them. Housemate reports that they were filling and tasty and worked really well for wild camping.

These are the final product about to go into the freezer (or about a third of the final product anyway).

There is a small town near me that had a market on this weekend. It only runs three a year but it tries to make them big when they run. I looked through the list of people who were going to be there and saw a butcher and a fishmonger. I was sold. I like the chance to meet producers I don't already know and the chance to look for bargains. From the fishmonger I found less a bargain (so more of a treat) but more of a good thing. I bought proper cold smoked kippers. I also picked up a chicken and a kg of diced beef for £10. It's locally raised so it had a mixed diet (because we're just coming out of winter) but for £5/kg I'm not complaining. I also picked up some local honey and some local organic cider vinegar. The cider vinegar is local, organic, not pasteurized, unfiltered, so it basically ticks the boxes. And to top it all off, it's cheaper than aspall's stuff.

Here's a picture of some of the kippers atop mixed kale and beetroot fried up in butter. Left my kitchen stinking of fish for ages afterwards. Not to be eaten just before you're expecting vegetarian friends or family round. Please excuse the poor photo. Like always it was taken from my phone and frankly I was too hungry to faff around trying to take a better one.

Cucumbers were on offer at Lidls so later this week I will be making lovely chicken and cucumber.

This lovely long bank holiday weekend has also seen me be able to get out into my garden. Down here in Devon we managed some sunshine, and my garden is fairly sheltered, so wrapped up against the cold it's been fairly pleasant. I'm not sold that this will be the final position of my veg beds but in practical terms it probably will be simply because it allows them to catch what little sun comes into my garden. I still need to fix them properly into the ground and build something round them to keep the hens out though.

Due to a headache I spent much of sunday afternoon curled up on my bed surrounded by gardening books. I love my books but sometimes it really makes the point that I am working with very little space. I'll  never be self-sufficient on this plot of mine, but it will certainly give me space to experiment and keep me honest about only using methods that prove to be economic. My garden looks barren now but I still dream of a time that it will be lush and productive.

The lord Saxen even managed some sunbathing in this weekend's weather.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Feeding the world one urban home at a time

A few weeks back my eye was rather caught by this article here about the Future of Food: Can Organic Farming Feed the World from the Small Footprint Family blog. I think it was short after I saw on youtube a documentary made a few years ago about the future of farming here in the UK from the view of a farmer's daughter here in Devon. The underlying point from both were that current farming methods are not sustainable. So it was on my mind for a bit, and then Christmas happened and starting my new business venture, but then the other day I heard on BBC news about the Institute of Mechanical Engineers publishing a report that claims that 30-50% of food produced does not make it to a human stomach. I'll let that settle in. Up to half of all food produced in the world is wasted. In my day job I talk to some vulnerable and often hungry people so this just seems plain wrong to be happening.

I remember being concerned about "green" stuff twenty years ago as a child. I'm pretty sure that "reduce, reuse, recycle" only became common later to wider audiences. Food is a finite source. It takes land, water and oil to produce industrial qualities of food. My personal feeling that I don't care whether we're reached Peak Oil or whether climate change is caused by humans or entirely natural. I do however care that it's doesn't make sense to balance our whole economy on something as finite as oil. I just don't think it makes much sense to keep making more and more of stuff, and that has only been compounded by this report from IME. It's a waste of resources, an insult to the producers, and when it comes to food wasted in the western world it is largely consumers who are to blame. So this is something we can do something about. The report recommends that we put into action what we already know about making good use of food. So here is my advise, tried and tested.

  • Grow your own. Firstly you have control, and secondly you don't. Mother Nature doesn't often make perfect tomatoes and sometimes carrots are funny shapes in the real world too. Growing your own teaches you to be more forgiving when selecting fruit and veg that other people have grown. Buying from local producers is another good way for naturally shaped and appearanced fruit and veg to be given a chance. I'm really lucky. I have a local grocer who sell their own stuff plus a few bits from other people. I can buy unusual varities of apple that look less than perfect but taste fantastic. The next best thing I've seen in the supermarkets is again apples. Tesco and sainsburys seem to use whatever variety is cheap to sell as their cheap range. So don't always buy the beautiful shiny apple (or whatever) when the ugly sister next to it is less wasteful and still tasty. 
  • Only buy what you need or can reasonably use. This was actually high-lighted in the report as they point out that bulk offers from supermarkets often result in bulk waste when stuff goes off. So you know, meal plan. I go to the shops on a saturday, buy what's cheap or on offer, get home and then plan what I'm going to make for the week dependent on what I've bought. Obviously I know I need to buy a few kg of veg and usually about 5kg of meat/fish every week so that helps because that's how these foods are sold. Sometimes I will buy more of something than I know I will use in a week, so when I get home I repack it for the freezer. Simple. I have meat, veg and fruit in my freezer. Rotate what's in your freezer, checking through it every few weeks and include it in your meal plans. The nice thing about eating the way that I do (meat plus veg) is that it's really easy to plan. The only thing else that I will add to this point is to plan yourself some easy to make or can be cooked from frozen meals. I will try and share some examples in the coming weeks. I had a friend fail at converting to this way of eating because he forgot too often to get meat out of the freezer to defrost. 
  • Use up leftovers. This site isn't paleo but you get the point - Love Food Hate Waste. Again your freezer is your friend but really it's best to use stuff up sooner rather than later. If you put stuff in the freezer - label it! I speak from experience. You're not saving anything if you end up throwing food away as unidentifiable. Everything looks the same once it's been in the freezer long enough. Omelettes are a good way to use up veg, and can be eaten at any time of day. Scraps of meat can be saved for things like a stew or curry. And save them bones. Stock and broth are common ways to make best use of left over veg and bones. Bone broth is easy to make, good for the digestive system, protein sparing, filling, and generally good for you as well as economical.  
  • Eat nose to tail. The report focuses more on plants than meat, and carries the assumption that meat is automatically uses more resources than plants. However if they are measuring what makes it to the human stomach then eating nose to tail will increase the amount of the animal that we eat and therefore generate less "waste" (although much of the waste is used to feed dogs and cats amongst used for other things). I am planning on getting a bigger freezer and when I do I will be buying my meat by the part animal. Eating nose to tail and making things like broth will mean I can go longer between purchases and throw away less at the end. 
I will probably expand on all these in later posts. However I've got a long day ahead of me tomorrow so I'm off to bed. 

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Eight days into a fresh 30 Days Paleo

I thought I'd offer up a little insight into how things are going. I was worried that after months of not being as strict as I would have liked that it was going to prove really hard. So far it's been relatively easy. I managed to walk past the creme eggs in tescos and avoid the chocolate machine at work. From time to time I get a sugar craving, even though I'm not deliberately trying to be low carb. I was probably helped on by one of my colleagues who IS low carb at the moment. She was having a difficult day so bought a big bar of dark chocolate and shared it out. I'm not avoiding dark chocolate but didn't have any with me. I was also having a difficult day, and that piece of dark chocolate stopped me from breaking and buying normal chocolate.

This next week is the really big challenge. I'm going out for a meal Saturday night to celebrate my birthday followed by drinks. I have my plans to manage this, but there will be peer pressure to conform. Thankfully since it's my birthday I've picked the restaurant. However the big challenge follows on Sunday when I have a re-enactment group meeting. There's always food at our meetings, and it often revolves around bread. Yummy yummy spelt bread. But I'm just going to have to say no.

Really the thing that keeps me strong so far is knowing that I'm going to be seriously disappointed in myself if I can't make 30 days.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Why my goals for 2013 didn't include a fitness goal.

Most paleo folks have fitness goals. Most paleo folks who have blogs talk about fitness sooner or later. Movement and exercise are an important part of realising our genetic potential and an important part of achieving "health". So why have I not included a fitness goal?

I'm going to be having surgery at least once in 2013. I might even have surgery twice. Not simple day surgery stuff either.

I've also taken to heart the advice Robb Wolf gives in The Paleo Solution to build and maintain some muscle.  So no specific fitness goals at the moment beyond making time and energy for movement that allows me to build and maintain some muscle. Once I'm done with surgery I look to bring to fruition some ideas I've been having about physical challenges. I live near Dartmoor so I'd like to get climbing. I like would to try a martial art. And I would like to tackle one of those big obstacle races.

So there you go. No fitness goal because other priorities fill my world at the moment.

As a PS to our goals though. I realised at the gym tonight that this is the first time I am doing a strict 30 days Paleo and working out regularly throughout. My sleep isn't great at the moment but I'm trying to work on that. I've also got loads of social stuff planned for the month too. It feels like I'm really giving myself a cracking start to 2013, as long as I actually do it all.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

My aims for 2013 - I don't do resolutions

Resolutions are too easily broken. A whole year is a big ask. Whilst aiming to make a change is a good ideal there are too many unknowns over that kind of time frame. I do however have some aims for the time ahead.

  • Do a proper 30 paleo without non-paleo treats. So no grains, no vegetable oils, only dairy will be in my tea/coffee, no legumes, will allow myself dark chocolate. My plan is to then give myself February  "off" before getting back on track for March. Really this is to prepare my body as best as possible for surgery later in the year. By March I should have a surgery date for chest surgery. 
  • Start and build a small business venture I am getting involved in. It's an established company and I will have plenty of support. I would like the extra money plus the experience building a business. The extra money will hopefully get ploughed into paying off my mortgage. 
  • I want to have my chest surgery before the summer and I would like to have at least consulted about lower surgery before the end of the year. I will continue to work on improving myself in preparation for surgery so I can do what I can to have the best result possible. Just call me vain.
  • I want to replace the lawn in my garden with raised beds and stone paths. I want to move my chicken coop so it's better positioned on my patio. I want a water butt. I want to rip down the shed in my garden that is falling down and replace it by rebuilding and extending my side shed. And I want to see how much food I can produce from my garden. I want a garden that produces food and that I can enjoy spending time in without being a slave to it. I have further plans but I think this is enough for one year. 
  • And last but not least I want to lay down some good memories with friends and family. 

We'll see how many of them I manage. And in the mean time I really need to polish a couple of recipes so that they're good enough to share.