Happy. Healthy. Heathen.

Traveling, training, thinking, talking, typing


Gayle Jordan

Law student, massage therapist, ironman, mom, gammy, hippie liberal atheist.

Our massage experience.

I love Groupon.  Last spring, I bought a Groupon for a couple’s massage.  Eliott and I have had one or two of these before, once in Tunica, and once in Vegas.  They were glorious, especially after a good hard workout.  I should mention that in one of these, when the therapists left the room for us to disrobe and get on the table, we both got on the same table, stacked.  How cute were the women when they came back and there we were, lying completely still.  They were good sports, even if we were corny old people with dirty senses of humor.

Back to Groupon.  This was to be a surprise for Eliott, since he’s always gotten massages for me (FYI – El gets abundant massages from his own personal therapist, as any therapist with a partner knows).  It’s taken several false starts to get this one scheduled; they even let us extend beyond the expiration date since we had tried so hard to find a time.

Our massage was last Saturday.  I told El I had a surprise for him, so at 2:30 I told him to just hop in the car with me and not ask questions, which he did joyfully.  Off we drove toward Nashville.  (Just so you know, I’m not going to reveal the name or location of this place).

We pulled into the parking lot, which was as close to a trailer park as I can describe.  We had a moment where El realized what his surprise was, flashed his beautiful smile, and up the rickety stairs we go.

The door was locked.  Not too unusual for a small practice.  Sometimes the therapist is finishing with one client, and must keep the door locked until he or she is finished and can greet the new clients.  We rang the bell and were buzzed in….to a room that might have been 6′ x 6′.  We each took a seat and filled out our clipboard forms on the same desk behind which the therapist sat (did I mention it was close quarters?).

After this, we met our two therapists.  Lovely ladies, who showed us toward the restroom (one, which we took turns using).  We were shown the room, which, had it had ONE massage table in would have been a little crowded).  No pads on the table, not even covers on the face cradle, but massage-therapy-school folded pillowcases covering the face cradle.  We disrobed and climbed precariously onto the wobbly tables (no double-stack this time).

The therapists enter the room and begin the massages.  Disclaimer:  I am a massage therapist.  I’ve been a therapist for about 7 years.  I know a good massage.  However, Eliott is not a massage therapist.  I’ll include commentary from both of us.

My therapist was wonderful.  I thought her pace, pressure, and pattern were spot on.  I thought it was a little sketch when she worked my glutes.  I go Full Monty for massages, and when she worked my glutes she pulled the drape back, well, all the way.  There I was, twat to the wind, but, honestly, she did a great job.  I had told her I was an athlete and was not modest.  She apparently believed me.  Eliott was having the same experience, only his version was balls to the wind.  Typically, in a tandem massage, the therapists follow an identical pattern, so we were having this “exposure experience” simultaneously.

Our therapists chose to have us face-down first, so the second half of our massage we were face up and the therapists were working on our thighs, chests, shoulders, and neck.  I can’t leave out Eliott’s comment after the massage was over and the therapists left the room:  “I’ve had lap dances where the strippers have not put their t*ts in my face as much as that woman”.  I admit, I was having a bit of the same, um, phenomenon.   The only thing missing was a pole and platform shoes.

In spite of the ventilated glute work and boobilicious front work, I actually had a good massage – good, deep pressure, good rhythm, and apparent knowledge of muscle innervations, origins, and insertions.

Later, when we googled the name of the establishment, we read several accounts that described their experiences of overhearing requests for the proverbial Happy Endings.  Caveat Emptor:  Google BEFORE you go get your massage.  If you have a bad experience, here is the TN Dept of Health site to report, and PLEASE REPORT.  It elevates the profession, and improves it for everyone!

If you want a recommendation for a professional, effective, functional massage, contact me.  I know some really good therapists.  =)

Thanks for reading!

Nutrition Wrap Up

Here’s the catchall post, where we look at things that didn’t really fit into the other topics, or that I just didn’t get to.

Let’s review.  If you are feeling good, and don’t have excess fat, and are sleeping well, and have the energy you need to do whatever it is that you do, and your medical markers for health – blood pressure, cholesterol, triglycerides, etc – are all within healthy parameters, and your body parts are doing what you require of them, and you recover from injury the way you’d like, Congratulations!  You are healthy!  Keep doing what you are doing!  And I’m really not being snarky when I say that; I really mean it.  There’s enough variation in physiology and disposition and habit to account for a wide variety of experiences in nutrition and fitness results.

If however, some of those things are not optimal, I’d recommend giving ancestral nutrition a try.  The science is sound, the results are consistent with the science, and if you don’t have success, what’s the risk?  Which leads me to my first point:

How to begin?  There are a couple of approaches.  One thought is that any improvement will benefit your health, and therefore if you start small, by changing one nutrition habit a week, incorporate one new rule at a time, you will be more likely to manage a lifestyle change that you will stick with.  Another idea is to go all in, whole hog, the full monty in one big step.  I’d like to suggest a hybrid of the two.

Go all in – for 30 days.  Do a little research, hit up some of the websites I’ll add links for, pinpoint a starting date for sometime this week, plan your shopping day before you begin, and then do it.  Go grain-free, sugar-free, grass-fed meat, scads and scads of veggies, a little fruit, healthy fats — for one month.  Don’t look for 30 days 4 months down the line when you won’t have a wedding or party or trip – that ain’t gonna happen.  Do it now, in spite of the wedding, party, or trip.  Just commit – it’s 30 days!  But don’t cheat!  Not one cheat day or cheat meal or even cheat bite – full-on clean eating for 30 days.

Then at the end of the 30 days, reevaluate.  Are any of those markers better?  Feel better, sleep better, work better?  Lose a little fat?  Focus a little better?  After that evaluation, have a little sit-down with your bad self.  Decide if it’s worth it.  If the answer is no, have another little sit-down, because it should be.  It’s your health, folks, the only body you’re gonna get.  And for those of us on the backside, evolution is not very nice to us.  Once we’ve passed those child-bearing years, nature is kind of over us, so to speak.  You’ve gotta give back a little, and this nutrition is exactly the way to do that.

Another point I want to make is that there is more to Paleo living than just nutrition, although nutrition is a major part.  There’s movement, which is a whole other series of posts, but I’ll link to my favorite sites where you’ll find info from the experts.  There’s footwear, which is a surprisingly big deal since it affects our posture which affects our digestion and skeleton and muscles.  There’s play, and community, and sleep, and a whole lot more!

I want to quickly touch on managing life swimming upstream.  How to handle the pizza, pasta, cake, ice cream, donuts, pancakes that surround us every minute of every day?  Here’s what works for me (most of the time):  Making these choices of what to eat are no longer dependent upon willpower, like other calorie-counting-based diets.  When you are empowered with the information of what foods are healthy and what foods are not, your choices are based on reason, education, and logic, and that beat the hell out of willpower!  One of my dearest besties has had such a recovery of her health eating cleanly, that she says she can’t even bring herself to eat those former treats and temptations.  That’s the power of good nutrition!

The next little mini-lecture is about the time and money it takes to eat this way.  Yes, it takes more money to buy grass-fed meat and local produce.  Yes, it takes longer to chop and prepare all those veggies, and it’s a whole new way to cook, which has a learning curve.

A. When you’re not buying all the other crap, it’s actually better than even, depending upon how much interior-grocery-aisle shopping you’re currently doing.

B.  Eating should be an event.  The instant availability of food is what has gotten us where we are in the first place!  I have learned to love this part.  I have these beautiful clear stacking containers and when they are full of colorful veggies all chopped and ready, it makes me joyful!  Plus, the weekly chopping task goes well with a partner jamming out in the kitchen after a bike ride to the farmers’ market and back!

So now the links:

This is Protein Power.  It’s a husband and wife MD team who have been nutrition physicians for years.  Theirs was the first book I read on my journey, so even though other blogs are more active, I have huge loyalty to them.

This is Mark’s Daily Apple.  I met Mark in Atlanta in August at the symposium.  His blog is active, and he has great freebies at his website, including several free ebooks. His site is a great resource for the fitness piece of the lifestyle.

Here’s Robb Wolf’s site.  Robb is one of the Ancestral Health rockstars.  I got him to sign his new book and chatted with him for a while.  He gave several presentations and was interesting every time he spoke.

Here’s Dr. Peter Attia.  Peter is the most brilliant physician I know.  I visit his blog, and understand about 20% of what he posts.  Check out this TED talk he gave.

Now for the recipe sites:

Here’s The Clothes Makes The Girl.  Melicious!  You will love her!

This is Nom Nom Paleo.  She posts a lot of family-friendly recipes, and she’s great!

Here’s PaleOMG.  More great recipes, with lots of funny commentary.

Here’s Paleo Parents.  They do lots of creative stuff because they have 3 little guys, so lots of lunch box foods and treats.

Now, back to law school, farm living, traveling, and kids!

Thanks for reading, both this post, and the whole series!

Paleo Post, Part 6

The Healthy Fats post.

The posts up til now present information that you have heard before:  cut out grains and sugar, consider dairy carefully, eat lots of veggies and high-quality protein.  This has been at least on the periphery of mainstream for several years.

What you don’t read so much about is the idea of healthy fats.  Keep in mind that our approach is still about eating foods that make us healthier and create a good physical response, and not just because our ancestors may have eaten some version of it.  Also keep in mind that this is going to presented highly simplified, and from a nutritional layperson.  My interest in nutrition is personal (and professional related to my personal training practice), and I am influenced not a small amount by application and implementation to my own body.

First let’s identify what fats create a good response in our bodies.  You probably already know there are different kinds of fat that have to do with the chemistry of the molecules.  Monounsaturated fats (MUFAS) are good guys that improve blood pressure and lower cholesterol – olives and olive oil, avocados (and oil), macadamia nuts, hazelnut oil.


Then there are the saturated fats (you read correctly).  Don’t freak out!  Those 2 words – saturated fat – have been unfairly blamed for effects that have usually come from the nasty bun/french fries/onion rings/bread/pasta/your-choice-here that accompany that fat.  Here’s a link to an abstract – read the conclusion.  Healthy saturated fats include clarified butter (an exception to the dairy rule since clarified butter is the fat only, with the milk proteins removed), pork and beef fat with this caveat:  Remember that when choosing meats, it’s pastured-meat all the way.  Toxins can accumulate in the fat of animals exposed to antibiotics and chemicals, and if you’re not eating grass-fed, cut off or don’t eat the fat.

Another saturated fat is coconut oil, coconut meat or flakes, and coconut milk.  It’s great for cooking, and the milk can be used as a substitute for cream in sauces and coffee.  The flakes make a killer coating for chicken tenderloin, and as a topping for salads, and for a straight-up snack.


Then there’s the PUFA’s – the omega 3’s and 6’s you’re hearing so much about.  We want both of these fats in our diet, but we want the right ratio too.  Good sources of omega 3’s are cashews, hazelnuts, and macadamias.  However, it’s common and easy to overeat nuts – they’re snackity delicious, terribly handy, very portable.  Part of our whole foods effort is that food preparation and consumption SHOULD be an event, and take a little time and effort and thought.  The concept of “grabbing and going” has so much traction in our busy culture, and it works against our healthy eating.


So here’s the piece I mentioned in an earlier post.  Bear with me, same disclaimer as always:  amateur’s understanding.  Your body always uses a combination of fat and carbohydrates for fuel.  When you feed your body an abundance of sugar, that’s the fuel your body will use, leaving your stores of body fat unburned and in place.  When you withhold sugar, and provide enough healthy fats, your body will burn fat for fuel, leading to fat reduction.  (We also use different fuel for different levels of activity – higher intensity burns more carbohydrates, lower intensity more fat).  You can take this to full-on ketosis , which is the point when the body turns almost exclusively to burning fat for fuel in the absence of carbohydrates.  I met Dr. Peter Attia over a full-cream latte in San Diego a couple of years ago and he’s an absolutely lovely man.  He is so much smarter than anyone I know, and while I loveloveLOVE his blog, I very seldom understand it all, even with this effort to make it accessible to non-scientists.  Here’s his post about ketosis and carbohydrates– it’s worth a read, but bring your brain.  But first, watch his Ted talk, and bring a tissue.

This is the last of the substantive posts.  That is it.  It’s how I eat most of the time.  It’s what I think the science guides us to eat.  It’s what I think the precepts of evolution drive us to eat.  I’m going to write a wrap-up post with some remaining details and how I manage eating in this manner.  This has been a fun series for me, and a fantastic distraction from the Brief I’m working on for Legal Writing.

Thanks for reading!


Paleo post, part 5

In continuing our title alliteration, this is the Protein Post.

There are 3 types of nutrients we eat:  carbohydrates, fat, and protein.  We’ve already covered most carbohydrates, we haven’t yet discussed fat, and now we look at protein.


Protein by definition is any of a class of nitrogenous organic compounds that consist of large molecules composed of one or more long chains of amino acids and are an essential part of all living organisms, esp. as structural components of body tissues such as muscle, hair, collagen, etc., and as enzymes and antibodies.  What that means to us is that because protein is found everywhere in our bodies, we need nutritional protein to survive.  Protein is found in animal products (muscle meat, organs, dairy, eggs,), in beans, nuts, seeds, tofu, and some grains (quinoa).

The focus of this post is to discuss the best sources of animal protein, and is not the debate about eating animal protein at all.  That’s an important and interesting and relevant topic that I promise to blog about at another time.

It has been said that You Are What You Eat.  Michael Pollan, the author of Omnivore’s Dilemma, takes that one step further and says: You Are What You Eat Eats.  So there is a point to be made that all that corn and grain our commercial livestock are being fed are showing up on our table after all.  And if we’re trying to eliminate that, we’ve just had a huge setback.

But there’s so much more important a reason not to eat grainfed meat (I’m talking about ungulates now – cows, pigs, sheep).  These animals have not evolved to eat grain in the manner that our American meat industry feeds them grain.  It makes them sick, and necessitates their being on antibiotics most of the time they are being fed grain.  Grain causes rapid weight gain, which of course increases profits, but puts the animal in an extremely unhealthy condition.  And of course, all this unnatural food that makes them sick causes them to suffer.  As much of an advocate of health I am, this suffering should be a much greater motivator than our personal health.  If we are going to eat meat, finding animals humanely raised, humanely slaughtered, and naturally fed should be a goal all of us should strive for.  The fact that they make us healthier should be a secondary concern.  The book I mentioned above, Omnivore’s Dilemma, is one of the best resources for becoming educated about the status of this portion of our food supply.

Because so many folks have found better health through a more natural approach to eating, it is likely that you can find a supplier of grass-fed, humanely-raised, local, pastured animals.  Whole Foods tries to use local suppliers, and uses a number grade to reflect sustainability.  Hit up your local farmers’ market – even rural Murfreesboro has 2 grass-fed animal farmers, who provide both beef and pork.  You can also easily find pastured chickens’ eggs, since even back-yard chicken farms produce an abundance of fresh eggs.  Or you could investigate the wonderful world of raising hens yourself!  They cut down on the bug population, they aerate the grass, they provide eggs, and if you don’t get Foghorn Leghorn they’re not really noisy – just a little proud clucking when one lays an egg.


Wild game is a good choice too, as are wild-caught fish and seafood.  Contrary to most folks’ perception of Paleo, it’s really not massive amounts of protein.  Today I had one 6-ounce piece of tuna, and a couple of eggs – the rest was fat and vegetables.  Some days I have a little more, most days about 60-80 grams of protein.

In the next post, when we discuss healthy fats, we’ll also address the importance of pastured animals.  When I first began to eat this way, I considered this a 2nd or 3rd tier issue – if I’m eating good protein, eliminating grains and sugar, eating my vegetables, do I really have to go to the effort of finding and buying grass-fed meat??  I’ve come to the conclusion I was wrong about that.  I think this is a high priority for our health, for reasons we’ll get to in the next post!

Thanks for reading!

Paleo Post, part 4

The Dairy post.

Full disclosure:  except for limiting alcohol, this is the food I miss the most, and is the one in which I am most likely to indulge.

Dairy is made up of some of the same amino acids that are found in the muscle meat of the cow, but there are milk proteins that may cause damage to our intestinal lining.  Milk products, whether human or cow (or goat or sheep) are critically important to the development of an infant of that species.  Milk comes packed with good immune and hormone messages that direct the rapid growth and nutrient capture in those infants.

However, children and other mammals soon lose the enzymes to digest milk not long after they are weaned.  Lactose intolerance is very common because our bodies simply don’t need it after about 2 years after our birth.  If we keep consuming milk and milk products, because we are not efficient at digesting it without lactose, it creates yucky intestinal problems like bloating and gas.  There is also a condition known as Leaky Gut Syndrome, where because of chronic inflammation (our old enemy), the lining of the small intestine has lost some of its integrity, and molecules that could not pass through the lining of a healthy intestine, permeate and go places where they can create problems.  Milk proteins could be potentially be implicated in contributing to this syndrome.

What about calcium?  See what years of marketing has done to us?  It’s the first question I’m asked if I say that I don’t eat dairy.  Calcium is important for bone growth, and muscle contraction, but just like everything else I’ve been writing about, it’s not as simple as Eat Calcium (From Milk) For Strong Bones.

A) Strong bones don’t depend just on calcium to be strong.  Guess what else makes strong bones?  Lifting heavy things.  In a study of obese adults, their markers for health were worse than a non-obese person in every matrix that could be measured except for one:  Bone Density.  Bones in obese adults are thick and strong, because the repeated pressure on those bones have demanded it.

B) Dairy is not the only source of calcium.  In fact, it’s not even the best source of calcium.  Guess what else has calcium, that is more accessible than the calcium in milk?  Green vegetables!  Leafies like kale and spinach and mustard greens have calcium, as does meat and seafood, and even nuts!  And they come without the baggage of the milk proteins that can cause the damage.

I’m planning an entire post about how I manage “nutritional offroading” but I’ll say here that if you have a healthy immune system, and a healthy gut, and all of your visible, perceivable, and testable markers for health are in the good zone, you can probably occasionally ingest some cheese or cream or butter from pastured animals and suffer no lasting ill effects.  Dairy does have some good saturated fat, and those amino acids I mentioned earlier, so there is at least some good going in with the bad (unlike grains which have nothing good to offer).

I also am planning to address how to approach all of these rules to integrate them into your life, whether to go all in or take up one rule at a time.  When we get to that, I’ll explain what I’d suggest (and what I did) with dairy, and all the other food groups, to determine if dairy is problematic for you.  I can tell you what the science says about it generally, and how we go about using self-experimentation.

I think I have written this post and the next post (pastured meats) out of sequence.  It’s important to understand how ruminants’ (cows and goats and sheep) digestive systems work, and why they should be pastured, to understand how their milk and meat are affected.  So come back and read this one after the next post on Eating Meat.

Thanks for reading!

Paleo post, part 3

Today is the vegetable post.

Eat them.

Thanks for reading!


OK, I’ve already covered the hardest part – the No Grains and No Sugar part.  This next one is an affirmative rule, and it’s one you can learn to love.

We should eat vegetables every day.  Lots of them.  Lots of different kinds of them.  You already know they are loaded with good stuff – nutrients, vitamins, phytonutrients, minerals.  There is research showing that vegetables with their phytochemicals can be helpful in fighting cancer.

Additionally, there are SO MANY different kinds of vegetables, which becomes important when you eliminate grains and sugar as a way to keep your food interesting and new.  There are only a few types of animals we eat, and because the Standard American Diet (aptly abbreviated to SAD) is so full of grain-based foods, if you do make a transition to a more traditional diet, you are likely to experience a feeling of depravity, and all those veggie varieties can help with that.

imagesimages-1So whether you have a big salad of fresh vegetables, or a stew or stirfry full of cooked vegetables, shoot for having them at 2 meals out of 3, or maybe start with one big meal of non-starchy veggies every day.

And I have good news about your next question.  While we’re ditching the croutons and shredded cheddar cheese, we’re adding good fats so you can have some kickass dressing on that big ol’ salad.  Here’s a recipe for homemade mayo (stay away from the ooky grocery store stuff) that can serve as a base for scads of dressings.  I make you a personal promise that it will be the tastiest mayo you have ever tried.

You can also add olives, nuts, chopped boiled eggs, a protein, and even fruit.  You may, like me, find that your salad meal is your favorite meal of the day.

For your cooked vegetables, try roasting almost any vegetable for the best flavor (400 degrees, one layer deep and tossed with sea salt and olive oil, 12-25 minutes depending upon size of pieces).  This gives broccoli, asparagus, kale, squash, brussel sprouts, and zucchini a crunchy, roasty flavor.  Another personal promise that you’re gonna LOVE this.

Fruits can also be a part of a healthy paleo diet.  I’m going to address this further in the post about Fat (to come).  Some fruits are high in sugar (bananas, apples), and you remember from the Sugar post that this can create a problem if we eat too much.  But Gayle, you rightly ask, how does that fit with the whole Paleo mentality?  Aren’t we supposed to be eating similar to our ancestors, and wouldn’t they have eaten fruit?  Why yes, they would – when they could get it, which would be when?  Seasonally.  (Just like veggies, by the way).  And the fruit that would have been available would not even have resembled a big juicy Red Delicious.  Finally, remember that we are building a diet that is healthy, not just historic, and too much sugar, from any source, leads to an insulin response.  Get to know the sugar content of fruits (and vegetables), and eat them as toppings, or see them as they treat they are.

Probably everyone has heard the analysis of whether or not to spend the extra for the Organic label – that if you are going to peel it (bananas or pineapples), non-organic is suitable; for leafies or veggies that are hard to wash, or whose peel you plan to eat (spinach, lettuces, sweet potatoes), go ahead and spend the extra.  Here’s my thought on the Organic issue:  I consider this issue to be about Tier 3 or 4 as it relates to priority.  If you’ve taken grains out of your diet, eliminated dairy, if you’re eating grass-fed meats and quality fats, THEN worry about whether or not your strawberries are organic.

I think a better focus is to seek LOCAL sources for your fruits and vegetables for at least 3 reasons – it supports local farmers and not superstores, it reduces the energy cost and carbon impact of transporting food from sometimes thousands of miles away (banana, anyone?), and the produce does not have to be genetically engineered to survive the journey and handling it takes to get to you.

By the way, corn is a grain, not a vegetable.  Beans are legumes, not vegetables.  A potato, while botanically a vegetable, is nutritionally a starchy tuber.

One more time I’ll state my disclaimer – this information I’m sharing is what I accept about nutrition science, and it matches pretty squarely with my own experience with my own health and nutrition.  This might be a good time for me to post this link which addresses the book The China Study, whose claims contradict Paleolithic nutrition science.  Denise Minger is a rockstar in the movement – here is her 2012 presentation at the Ancestral Health Symposium.

Next up:  Dairy!  One of the hottest topics within the Ancestral Health movement.

Thanks for reading!


Paleo Post, Part 2

So we covered grains and their inflammatory effects.

Today’s topic is Sugar, in all of its non-grain forms.  Brown sugar, white sugar, honey, agave, maple syrup, AND artificial sweeteners, all of them, that I don’t need to name.

But before I get into that, let me issue another disclaimer about all this.

I blog because I like to, because it lets me organize my own thoughts, and because enough people ask me to focus on a certain topic.  If you are reading this, thank you.  But in this area, unlike my secular posts, these posts are not written to convince you.  I am not knowledgeable in this area, not enough to be a valid source of information.  This series of posts is written to explain what works for me.  I am easily convinced that, in the area of nutrition, there is more than one way to skin that proverbial cat (gotta come up with a replacement for that horrible idiom).

So here’s the disclaimer:  if what you are doing, nutrition-wise, is working for you, continue to do that!  And by “work for you” I mean so many more things than just weight; there are markers for health that include answers to the questions How are you sleeping, and How are you feeling, and How are your bowels, and How is your sex drive, and How is your appetite?  If you’re not happy with the answers to those questions, then maybe you’ll have an good experience with the Paleo concept. In addition to those self-check questions, there are tests your physician can do including triglycerides, cholesterol, blood pressure that are probably more related to our overall health than our size and weight.

Back to sugar.  Here is a link I read just today, that is more on inflammation from the first post, but it applies to the inflammation caused by sugar as well as grains.  He gets into fats a little, which is a later post, but his description of the effects of the inflammatory process is powerful.

Even nutrition scientists who don’t embrace Paleo agree on the sequence that occurs when sugar, in all its forms, enter the body (here’s a pretty sciency explanation).  When my mother was diagnosed with diabetes 5 years ago, I wanted to make sure she understood the disease so she could be better equipped to make the best decisions for treatment.  I asked her what diabetes was, and her answer was that her pancreas was not functioning correctly.  To the contrary, I told her, your pancreas is functioning exactly as it should – it’s responding to the sugar in your bloodstream, and it’s working as hard as it can.  And that’s just the problem – we’re overworking that poor little organ, and our cells get insensitive to getting the message to DO SOMETHING WITH THE EXTRA SUGAR!  Insulin is a fat storage hormone, because the sugar has to go somewhere – it can’t stay in the bloodstream, so into the fat cells it goes to be used later.  Over and over and over, every time we put in sugar (whether it’s in the form of cakes, cookies, pasta, pretzels, pancakes, popsicles, or bagels).

A secondary effect is that when we get on the blood sugar roller coaster, when we hit those lows, we know, even subconsciously, that the way out of the low is the big hit of sugar.  There’s even evidence that artificial sweeteners, while they don’t have the same impact, because of their sweetness cause even a saliva response that  begins an insulin response.  Health experts even throw around the word addiction, although I don’t know enough about that phenomenon to know if our love of sugar qualifies.

And sugar is everywhere.  Check the labels of products in your pantry, and look for sugar words like corn syrup, fructose, sucrose, cane sugar, and molasses.  It’s relatively easy to refrain from adding extra table sugar to foods we eat, but it’s not so easy to avoid it in packaged products.  So the Paleo position is to stay away from any pre-packaged, processed food items.

Sugar in fruit:  yes, there is sugar in fruit, and there is also sugar in vegetables, some are even high in sugar.  I will touch on this again when I write the post on healthy fat, because it will factor in again there.  Until then, the general thought is to limit even fruit, especially those fruits high in sugar.  Melons and berries are good choices, and you will be surprised at how sweet all fruit is when sugar is removed from your diet.

Next post:  Vegetables!

Thanks for reading!




Paleo Post, part 1

I’m still in Vegas with my girlio, helping her apartment and job hunt.  The mini-update is:  it looks as if we have found her an apartment.  It’s about 5 miles from the strip, is gated and secure, and we should get her moved in tomorrow or Tuesday.  She’s begun the job application process by getting her Alcohol Card and Health Card, and all of the online applications filled out.  She’s optimistic about getting work, and is really excited about getting settled into her little Vegas home!

However, I want to post today about nutrition.  I’ve gotten a lot of response from folks since I posted about our experience with the Ancestral Health Symposium.  A lot of the response has been from my friends in the skeptic community.  I’m going to try to explain my position on this a little better, but it makes me so proud to be part of this group of skeptics who don’t accept information without evidence.

First, let’s work on the word.  The issue over the word “Paleo” reminds me of the flame wars the secular community has over the word “atheist” versus “any-self-identification-word-other-than-atheist” (agnostic, freethinker, humanist).  So many arguments against “Paleo” nutrition focus on this one word.  These arguments make a valid point.  I have a Portuguese friend who says that rules are divided into Theory and Practice (with his lovely accent those words are Teeory and Prrrractice).

In Theory, Paleo nutrition is a way of eating (and movement, and other things but we’ll focus first on nutrition) that is based on what we know about  human evolution.  There’s even an effort within the community to switch to the term Evolutionary Nutrition.  The theory is that we base our eating on the way of eating that allowed our ancestors to have survived to reproduce and thrive.  Paleo refers to the era when our ancestors were hunter-gatherers, before the Neolithic era of agriculture (Jared Diamond’s book Guns, Germs, and Steel, is an awesome book (and Pulitzer Prize winner) that explains the history of human societies).

However, in Practice, almost nothing we eat modernly is the same food our ancestors ate.  Not the bananas, not the brazil nuts, not the beasts.  Unless you are harvesting wild mushrooms, or fishing pristine rivers, or hunting wildebeests, you are eating modern versions of all of those ancient foods.  So I will agree with the “Paleo-busters” who assert that there can be no true Paleo diet because there is not true Paleo food.

There is a large part of this movement (and I don’t speak for anyone but myself) which is attempting to shift the focus from selecting our diet based solely on our ancestral heritage and more on what the food actually does when it enters your body.  In studying the effects these different nutrients (fat, protein, carbohydrates) have on our bodies, it’s helpful to have a basic understanding of human physiology and anatomy, and how our systems function separately and in harmony.

You remember from high school biology that we have cells –> organs –> systems.  Remember that we have 10 systems:  respiratory, musculoskeletal, nervous, reproductive, gastrointestinal, integumentary, urinary, immune, endocrine, and circulatory.  Each system is dependent upon the others, and the general health of the person is an accumulation of the health of each of the systems.  The things we do with and put into our body affect the systems, and therefore the whole body.

The process of figuring out what different foods do in the body is a challenging task, because of the interconnectedness of all the systems and the unique physiology of each person.  I have no scientific background, but even as a layperson I have found sufficient research to show that certain foods have a MORE healthy effect on the systems and certain foods have a LESS healthy effect.

So now here’s the rub.  What is healthy and what is unhealthy?  This is where the strength of skepticism comes in.  Conventional wisdom has always been a big red flag for me, and never more so than in what is considered a healthy diet.  Leaving aside for a moment that the government that provided us with the food guide pyramid is the same government that subsidizes corn, sugar, and soybeans to the tune of billions of dollars a year, let’s first look at the standard American diet with a critical eye:  assuming that the average grocery store reflects what the average American eats, 75% of the items in a grocery store contain corn or a corn product.  Even the beef, pork, and chicken from the grocery store are ultimately corn, as they are fed corn for all or most of their lives.  In his pivotal book, Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan describes the history of the plant we know as corn, and how our industrial food supply is so dependent upon it, and how very unhealthy it is for humans, and the animals we eat, and humans again when we eat those animals.

Additionally, there is enough evidence to convince me that grains are inflammatory.  Inflammation, in turn, is very damaging to our body (also here) (and here).  There is a also syndrome known as leaky gut syndrome that results in increased intestinal permeability, and it is thought that grains contribute to this, which in turn leads to bad stuff getting into one’s bloodstream.  Finally, there’s some research that suggests that processed carbohydrates can light up pleasure centers in our brain so strongly that it mimics an addiction for some people.

This post is going far longer than I intended, so I’m going to have to break it into several posts.  I’m going to do it this way.  In summary of what I’ve said so far, there are several components of what the Ancestral Health movement endorses.  Over the next few posts, I’m going to personalize those factors according to what I think are the most important.  In the movement we call this N=1, and there is huge focus in the movement on self-experimenting.  This is because each of us has in our past a heritage based on climate and geography and the food that would have been available to our ancestors, and the digestive enzymes we would have evolved to accommodate that supply.

Here’s Gayle’s short version of How To Eat:

1.  Eliminate grains, whole or processed.

2.  Eliminate sugar.

3.  Eat lots and lots of a variety of vegetables, particularly the green leafy kind, and a limited amount of low-sugar fruit.

4.  Eliminate dairy.

5.  Eat meat from grass-fed cows, pastured pigs, free range chickens and eggs, and wild-caught fish.

6.  Eat healthy fat in the form of avocados, nuts, coconut, and olive oil.


While I’m working through all this, I may decide to change the sequence, or add to, the above list.  Also, this is only the NUTRITIONAL arena of the Paleo movement, which is only a portion of what contributes to our overall health.  So much more to come!

Thanks for reading!



We made it!

Here we are!  1880 miles and 3 days later, we’re here!

We started out in Albuquerque and this morning did not even have to backtrack to get to a Starbucks!  We started (and ended) the day out like we have the other 2 mornings:  listening to the Money song by the OJays.  Then it was back to her Vegas mix.

Today was a huge variety of landscapes and vistas.  In particular, we had no idea that Flagstaff, Arizona was a little ski town.  We’d been driving along in scenery that was expected from the southwest, and suddenly we drove through a green, forested, mountainous section.  We checked the GPS a couple of times and kept on driving.

Colorado, right in the middle of Arizona!
Colorado, right in the middle of Arizona!

As soon as we crossed into Nevada, we got to stop and see the Hoover Dam.  There’s a reason it’s the touristy, obligatory thing to do.  Glenda gave me a primer on the whole art deco movement of the era while we took in the mindblowing engineering that the dam was and is.





Here are a few interesting sights we saw along the way today

If you are going to panhandle outside starbucks, you might not want to wear this shirt
If you are going to panhandle outside starbucks, you might not want to wear this shirt
This was special
This was special

Then we finally rounded the bend…

It's hard to see, but that's Vegas!
It’s hard to see, but that’s Vegas!

Instead of staying in a La Quinta out on the edge of town while we do our apartment hunting, my darling squeeze surprised us with reservations at the LVH!

Glenda’s excited and nervous and happy to be here.  Mrs. Whiskers was a trouper, and hasn’t had much to say about being a Las Vegas kitty.  Watch here for an update on apartment and job hunting.

Thanks for reading!


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