Tomorrow is the last day of The Magic Bus carnivore challenge. This may be premature, but since I'm planning on total carnivory today and tomorrow, I thought I'd post my stats:
Start date: Feb 3 # of days in challenge: 26 Days carnivorous: 16, 61.5% Days non-carnivorous: 10, 38.5%
So what were my non-carnivorous days? Well, a couple involved veggies - some celery along with Portuguese chicken wings (medium=HOT at this place, and celery with blue cheese dip is a necessity, IMO) and baby carrots while eating dinner with my sis, BIL, niece and nephew. Otherwise it was generally because I had a sugar-free pop - diet root beer mixed with heavy cream - or used cocoa powder in a cream cheese dessert. One day, I had blueberries in yogurt.
Which brings me to an interesting observation, at least for me: "junk" food has largely lost its appeal as a treat. I've always had a weakness for Cheetos and regular Ruffles - I love salty/crunchy, and now and then I like to bunker down with a movie or TV series and pig out on crap. I tried this twice during the challenge, and was surprised to discover that - gasp - I didn't enjoy it, which, to me, is the equivalent of the pope realizing he no longer cares much for god, and could happily go without.
Same with the "diet" drinks. I'd developed a bit of a habit, having one or two Coke Zeroes or SF Root Beers a day. As the month wore on, I found myself wanting water and teas. Sparkling water (my favorite is Gerolsteiner, a mineral water from Germany) replaced soda as my taste for a little something sweet faded into the background. I found I could take coffee, enhanced with a pinch of cinnamon and nutmeg or a splash of vanilla extract, either unsweetened or with a little bit of stevia.
My meat meals were mainly rare steak with butter. I also had duck, chicken wings, pork ribs, roasted pork, sausage (no filler, just meat and spices), eggs and nitrate-free bacon. Almost all of my meat came from my organic butcher or local farms. Side dishes and/or dessert was either some form of cheese or a caffe creme - coffee with steamed heavy cream. All dairy products used were organic and locally produced. I'm very lucky to be able to get these in my grocery store.
I did not crave vegetables or fruit, save the one day when I really fancied some baby carrots. To me, this makes sense - in Ontario, we can get certain greenhouse-grown veggies year-round, but for the most part winter means root veggies. I love squash and beets and such, but I had no desire to use them and generally find myself wanting veggies and fruit in the late Spring-Summer.
Beef became my meat of choice, and then cooked rare or blue. Well-done meat was blecchh. I did up some beef ribs, and without sauce they tasted, to me, like death. I really don't like well-done beef. The idea of a pot roast really turned me off, and I was living on pot roast earlier this winter. Other meats were nice, for one meal - I had no desire to eat my leftover duck or pork. The idea actually turned me off. Rare steak, on the other hand, never lost it's appeal, nor did eggs.
Now - dairy. This was a challenge for me in other ways. I had added dairy back to my diet, but in relatively small portions. Some cheddar in an omlette here, some cream in a coffee there. This month, I ate more cheese and cream than I have in ages. What did I notice? Well, I had no reactions like I did at the start of my gluten-free endeavour - no sinus trouble or wheezing, no horrid gas. I did have a few pimples emerge. I've found that heavy cream and butter seem to be fine, but too much cheese can lead to gut pains. Minor ones, but they're there all the same. At the outset I was snacking pretty heavily on cheese and experienced some bloating. Cream, I can definitely overdo as well - again, too much and I bloat. It's different than my gluten-bloat, mushier rather than drum-tight. I wonder if it's something to do with the salt in cheese making me retain water, because my hands would get a bit puffy as well (and cheese started to taste pretty salty - I could never really detect the salt before). Regardless, I'm keeping dairy to a minimum from now on - small bits here and there, and coconut milk/cream in my hot drinks.
My appetite took a serious dive - no surprise to anyone familiar with low-carbing, as this tends to happen when insulin levels are low and blood sugar is steady. This came about even more so when I quit eating much cheese. Cheese, for me, tends to make me feel less sated. Meat and fat? I'm good. I've been eating in an intermittent fasting -style for well over a year now (eating one or two meals a day within an "eating window", and going anywhere from 15-22 hours between meals), and found that I could push my eating window later and later. I just wasn't hungry. The last few days I've started dinner not because I was starved, but because it was 6 or 7pm and I'd not eaten anything! And lest anyone think I am turning in to some calorie-counting anorexic, fear not - I make those meals count, baby. Yesterday's meal, for example, was around 1,900 calories (and met or got close to the RDA for most nutrients, not that I put much stock in the RDA - but that's a whole other post!) It's quite easy, eating a high-fat, moderate protein diet (which is what low-carb diets are, ideally) to get enough energy. In fact, that's one thing I've had tons of - energy! I spring out of bed with no trouble, and have stopped using my alarm clock. I wake up between 7-8am (that doesn't mean I get out of bed, of course!) feeling totally refreshed after going to sleep between 11pm and 1am. Some nights I forced myself to go to bed, because I was still alert and spunky. I try to get a good amount of sleep though, especially after reading Lights Out: Sleep, Sugar and Survival. Even on nights that I wasn't tired, I was able to fall asleep easily once I got into bed and relaxed. I think meditation helps with that, though I wasn't practicing it much this month.
And the best thing about all this? I am down another pound as of this morning to my lowest adult weight EVER - 113lbs. I'd landed at 114lbs for a bit, then jumped up to between 116-118lbs after holidays (water weight, mainly). I shed all that, plus a pound of bodyfat. Yup, I'm awesome. Anyone who's ever lost weight will tell you that the last 10lbs or so come off really, really slowly and, in some cases, can be a struggle to lose. According to all the weight-loss calculators floating around out there, I should be eating anywhere between 1,100 and 1,500 calories to lose weight (and I have gained weight on 1,500 calories, eating vegetarian/low-fat/lots of starch - while working out regularly). While I think that calories do count, to a point, seems for many of us it's the type of calories that count more than the amount. (Note: I haven't worked out in two months - that pound wasn't "burned" off through exercise.)
So although the challenge is almost over, I intend to keep up with most of it. I'd let quite a few "filler" foods into my life, and I see now that I really don't need them other than as a once-in-a-while treat. I am going to explore more ways of preparing meats, including organs - I have a beef liver and heart to pick up from the market today, as well as some oxtail and beef cheeks. I also may eat more fresh fish - my BIL picked up some live trout at the supermarket, and what a HUGE difference in taste/texture than frozen fillets! And yes, I'll still eat veggies and fruit - but I really see them in a different light now, especially since I've been reading up about them. Expect more posts on this topic.
But next - another Magic Bus challenge! In March, I am combining two challenges: the Kitchen Clean challenge, and the 90% Fat challenge. I will post the rules on the 1st.
Note: the picture was taken by a former colleague of mine during her trip to Kenya. Now there's something you didn't see in The Lion King! Amazing, eh?