Label Free Life

Living real doesn't need a label

Archive for the ‘Getting Started’ Category


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I’m a quitter (so far)!  I’ve made it almost 24 hours without a cigarette.  It’s hard now that I’m at home where I smoke most but, according to experts my blood oxygen level will have increased to normal and carbon monoxide levels will have dropped to normal. However, tonight anxieties peak in intensity and within two weeks should return to near pre-cessation levels.

Are you looking forward to seeing me at work tomorrow? Here’s what you can look forward to: Damaged nerve endings have started to regrow and your sense of smell and taste are beginning to return to normal. Cessation anger and irritability peaks.

I don’t normally eat dinner but I was starving on the way home from work.  I whipped up some beef curry with snow peas, carrots and turnips.  It’s served over konjac noodles. It was quite good.

p.s. I had a pink lady apple and about 8-10 olives during the day today.


Written by Sonya

August 15, 2011 at 8:41 pm

Day 1

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We’re all off to a good start!

Steve rendered our beef tallow from Deep Roots Meat this weekend so I have nice buttery looking jars of goodness to cook with. Thanks, Steve!






Breakfast tasted better than it looks. I made Sarah Fragoso’s egg muffins with a slight twist since I’m not eating bacon during the Whole 9. I’m afraid I haven’t quite gotten down the difference between “chop” and “puree” with the food processor.

Please don’t let this picture discourage you from trying the egg muffins.  They are delicious, incredibly portable and I won’t have to cook breakfast for the rest of the week. How cool is that?

I’m not hungry when I get up, so I eat breakfast at work when I do get hungry.  You’ll be seeing those plates a lot over the next 30 days.

Lunch is leftover roast beast on a bed of lettuce and carrots with some grilled asparagus (yum!). I made a vinaigrette with olive oil and pear-infused vinegar I found at the store. That’s it – I didn’t add any seasonings and it was so flavorful and light.


Written by Sonya

August 15, 2011 at 2:13 pm

Twas the Night Before Whole 9

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Twas the night before the Whole 9 Challenge
And all through the kitchen
My hands they were grillin’
Egg muffins, roast beast and asparagus were chillin’

Awww, hell, I’m not a poet….let’s just say that the haul from the grunchy store to be certain I have plenty of Whole 9 approved goodies on hand was large. You’d have thought I had 10 kids at home with all the stuff I bought (I do NOT like having no options on what to eat when the mood strikes). I even bought some pear infused vinegar which is actually pretty darn good!  I discovered my beloved Paul Newman’s Oil & Vinegar salad dressing has – gasp! – vegetable oil in it. I may or may not finish the three bottles I have once the challenge is over – I will cross that bridge when I come to it but for now it’s off limits because I am doing this thing all-the-way – no exceptions.

I wanted to take a picture of my fridge like Mark Menjivar has done with people but I couldn’t get the lighting right and, since I live alone, it’s really not all that exciting. Rest assured, though, there is no snake in my freezer.  It’s mostly batteries (Floridian hurricane paranoia) and some goat meat I haven’t had the courage to actually cook yet.

I made Sarah Fragoso’s egg muffins to have my breakfasts taken care of this week. I am going to avoid processed meats, and that includes bacon and sausage so I used left over roast beast in the recipe. I have always been fond of Kalyn’s egg muffins but Sarah’s are different in some ways and that’s what I’m needing for this challenge to avoid “paleo-izing” favorites. When I make Kalyn’s I always, always use cheese, Sarah’s don’t.

In the strictest sense of Whole 9, I’m also giving up nightshades which has proven to be difficult for me because in my preparations I realize how much I must love tomatoes and peppers since they seem to be in every single thing I eat. If they are the cause of these horrific acne outbreaks and hormonal imbalances I have, I want to know. I’m just torn, now, trying to decide whether to add back dairy or nightshades first when the challenge is over. I love both so much! Those are the two things I think I’m going to miss most – believe it or not, over nicotine and wine. I plan to quit the nicotine for good and the wine… well, we’ll see. *smile* I am open to all possibilities.

“When the challenge is over….” Is that healthy or not? To already be thinking about when the challenge is over.  I dunno. It’s not supposed to be a forever thing – it’s a “resetting” thing – it’s a “getting a great base line” thing – it’s the mentality that I’m going to do this Whole 9 Whole Hog (Mississippi thang) – I expect great things to come out of this experience. Thanks, Steve, for challenging all of us to do this with you!

Steve, Jason, John, Noralynn, Arlene and I embark on this great adventure together starting tomorrow. I’m ready.

Written by Sonya

August 14, 2011 at 9:19 pm

Who do you want to be?

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I’m into psychology, energy medicine and nutrition, etc…. the whole package. How our emotional, physical and spiritual selves all meld together to make us who we are. Life is more than just what you think or how you eat or whatever “spiritual” path you follow. It’s a whole conglomeration interrelated making up the whole person. I’m not sure what the balance is or how it all works but I know that when I’ve been able to vividly visualize where I want to be I’ve seen it come to pass.  Coinky-dink?  I dunno. I’m not up to arguing about it either because I only remember when it does happen and not when it doesn’t or because I really don’t like to argue. I am into investigating other viewpoints and opinions though there was a time when I wasn’t.

I vividly remember sitting behind the driver’s side of my Mazda Protege and visualizing myself higher up in the seat with less front end vision saying “this is what it is going to be like behind the wheel of my Subaru Baja” (my dream car at the time). Less than a month after these “pretend” sessions I was talking on my cell phone and totalled my Mazda. I used the insurance money and my savings to buy that Baja. I love, Love, LOVE my Baja!! I would not have bought it without the impetus of having no other options at that time.  I looked at the situation as being a “all things work out for the good” situation, however, I do not ever talk on the cell phone or text while driving anymore.

I likewise, do visualizations with my body. I have pictures of me when I was much younger and thinner and healthier than I am now posted on my refrigerator along with pics of really fat girls to discourage me from those late night binges. These have not worked as well and I don’t want some life-changing, serious situation like totaling my body to get me to the health I want to experience.

This is where Whole 9 comes in. This is where I have run out of excuses for living the life I dream of. This is where I have a reason to take control of my life before some catastrophic event forces me to make the changes I need and know I need to make. I am intimately familiar with the mind~body connection (yes, I believe in this). I know balancing nutrition will help balance mental health will help balance physical health will help balance addictions (to processed foods, cigarettes, alcohol, destructive behaviors/thoughts) will help balance etc….

Donna Eden, Candace Pert, Jimmy Moore, Mark Sisson, Nora Gedgaudas, Julia Ross, Michael Shermer, etc. have all impacted my life and how I think , eat, breath and move. Some of it may seem like quackery to you and that’s okay. Maybe it is. *smile* I was in a very high demand religious cult for 10+ years and not able to think for myself. I was told what to do with my mind, my heart, my time, my money, my thoughts for so long that I’m still trying to figure out what’s what. I don’t think nutrition and diet are the end all ~ be all of health – I think it encompasses more than that but not sure how habits, lifestyle, thoughts, mentality and nutrition all tie in to make the healthiest, happiest person we can be. I am convinced that it’s different for different folks because we all have different situations.

Whole 9 with friends and co-workers, basically, is my excuse to give up cigarettes and alcohol – two of my biggest challenges – it gives me an excuse to go “hard core” into the healthy lifestyle of eliminating everything that might be a problem in my life. Could I have done this on my own? Sure. But I haven’t. Could I do it without admitting my challenges publicly like this? Sure. But I haven’t despite my best intentions – those same “good intentions paved the road to hell” intentions. I’m 42 and not where I wanted to be when I turned 40, but nobody else knew at 39 where I wanted to be by 40 because I never shared that with anyone. This is it. This is where I “put up or shut up”. I plan to “put up”. (Thanks, Melissa!) I have in other ways, but this whole person transformation is what I’m looking for this time…uncovering the real me, the “me” I want to be and am proud to be. I’m rather excited about it.

Written by Sonya

August 12, 2011 at 9:09 pm

Posted in Diet, Getting Started

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Lapham’s Quarterly is a new find for me and I’m very interested in some of the articles there.  I was reading Death in the Pot by Deborah Blum which is a very interesting article on the prevalence of poisoning in the past and, more importantly, the history of food safety laws (or the lack thereof). This article lead me to an article regarding Upton Sinclair’s novel “about the Chicago meat-packing industry, The Jungle. (Sinclair had meant the book to incite reaction toward improving worker rights. He famously later complained that, “I aimed at the public’s heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach.”)”

This article had a picture from a meat packing plant by the US National Archives Photostream on Flickr (don’t you love getting lost in links?).  I don’t see any pictures with copyrights so far. There are over 7,000 pictures and I’m certain I could waste a whole day looking at all of them, but this one in particular caught my eye. I think we should bring it back! I hope the mindset is coming back as it appears to be! Other favorites are the “Sugar, Save it” campaign poster and the “Victory Garden” poster.

I’m not planning any Victory Garden just yet but I am looking around for ideas to include in my menus during the Whole 9 challenge.  Being prepared, having necessary groceries on hand and planning time to cook meals is going to be critical to the success. 7 more days till we embark on our own n=1 experiments in figuring out which nutritional elements provide optimal health for us…I’m excited!

Written by Sonya

August 8, 2011 at 1:40 pm

Labels Suck

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I despise labels – labels on people, food labels, even diet labels: Low Carb, Smart Carb, Paleo, Primal, Ancestral Diet, Archevore, Whole 9, Warrior Diet, Caveman Diet, Functional Paleo, etc. etc. ad nauseum. Call it what you will; I don’t have a label for it because I do what works for me. Others are doing the same – which is what we’re supposed to do, right? We have to figure out what works for us because our bodies do not come in a “one size fits all” package.

Paleo seems to be the standard that communicates the essence of it to most folks so that’s what I use when forced to give it a name. When I’m not, I just say, “I eat REAL FOOD – things without a label – I buy my meat, eggs and veg (and occasional fruit, raw milk dairy products and butter) from local, organic, grass fed farms. I buy coconut milk, coconut oil, olive oil, spices and some wholesome things that do have a label so I’m not totally label free and, yes, I buy meat and produce from the grunchy store when I’m watching my pennies. I don’t buy processed crap and I don’t eat sugar in any form save the occasional fruit.” I think it gets the point across fine – even to those who like to argue accuracy and semantics.

When I read about someone saying there’s a need for a label, something other than Paleo or Primal, I find it amusing. Because 1) there’s no need for a label 2) we will start to sound like the vegetarian community 3) all it does is instigate arguments over semantics and minutiae. It reminds me of the Bible verse about straining gnats and swallowing camels. Do people really expect us to start saying, “I’m a lacto-paleo” or “I’m Paleo 4.0”? All labels do is facilitate pigeon holes and stereotypes. People who are familiar with Paleo/Primal eating know there are variations within the diet. Those who don’t only need the basics and instructions later on how to figure out what works for them so they can decide which elements work and which don’t in their particular situation.

There are some folks who need/want a hard and fast set of rules and they want everyone to be 100 percent accountable 100 percent of the time to following those carved-in-stone rules. Ambiguity and fluidity frustrate them. However, it runs contrary to the heart and soul of living the all encompassing healthy lifestyle that I’ve geeked out on and have come to love.

That lifestyle embodies flexibility and a keen knowledge of what works best for your body.  I’m still figuring it out for meeself. There are times and ways to figure that out which is why my friends and I are embarking on the Whole 9 program for 30 days starting August 15. This will require regimented eating but will give us each the experience and n=1 knowledge of what works with us individually. I’m rather excited about it, actually. I don’t expect any of us to ride the Crazy Train to Carrot Town and I fully appreciate that we will call each other out should one of us buy a ticket.

What embarking on this lifestyle has done for me is teach me the value of play, quality sleep, real foods and eliminating stress in my life. It’s introduced me to many invaluable experts and bloggers on the healthy lifestyle that I choose to live from nutrition to medical to lifestyle management. Some of my favorite bloggers are labeled with a certain diet, but many aren’t such as Dr. Bernstein for his management of diabetes (I’m pre-diabetic), Julia Ross for her invaluable insight on addiction, amino acids and how diet affects our moods and addictions of every kind, Todd Becker with his Hormesis viewpoint and many of the other wonderful folks interviewed on Jimmy’s podcasts. In fact, Jimmy’s blog and podcasts is where I first learned of Robb Wolf, Mark Sisson, Tom Naughton, Nora Gedgaudas and many others in the Paleo/Primal community.

This is a lifestyle – not a diet.  This is figuring out what works for you, personally, not following some set of rigid legalistic standards and arguing over semantics and what the caveman did or didn’t do. It’s starting from a base of sound scientific, biological, evolutionary evidence for healthy longevity and tweaking it to figure out what gives you optimal “feel, look and performance” in your life (with a nod to Robb Wolf for the variation of his phrase).

Written by Sonya

August 4, 2011 at 10:04 pm

Never Take Advice…

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“Never take financial advice from a poor person and never take diet advice from a fat person.”

When I first remember hearing that, a friend and I were having a rather heated discussion about the best way to lose weight. He was arguing the “calories in / calories out” theory and I was arguing the “carbohydrate drives insulin, insulin drives fat” theory. This is when I realized that it was time to put up or shut up. I am a fat person giving diet advice and willing to argue about it. The irony is not lost on me.

I have been mostly following my newly chosen lifestyle but allowing way too many “just this once” bites and meals. I absolutely do not look like anyone who knows what they’re talking about when it comes to nutrition, health and weight loss. It’s a wonder anyone has listened to me up to this point, including my own mother who is off the bloody statins and experiencing her own successes. I am happy about that and not one bit sorry for pestering the crap out of her to dump that poison. It’s not me who has convinced anyone of anything, though. I’ve shared links, studies, books and movies from others more knowledgeable than I who are better at communicating. Those experts have done the educating and motivating of my friends and family to make healthy changes to their lives.

Today I had to get some help from a co-worker I don’t particularly enjoy being around (I’m quite sure the feeling is mutual). He proceeded to tell me how he has lost 15 pounds and what he’s doing to lose weight in a tone that insinuated he was trying to help me lose weight. It’s naturally not anything I haven’t tried before; I have tried every diet known to man and am probably the only person on the face of the earth who actually gained weight on the cabbage soup diet. Furthermore, I did not ask him for advice.  I ended the conversation by telling him I was happy he found what worked for him but it’s not what I wanted to say to end the conversation.

I was beyond irritated and getting angry. Then I recalled how many people I’ve shared my new learning and adventures in nutrition with such as the aforementioned “discussion”. Pot, meet Kettle. My brother’s words rang in my ears on the way to the gym while I fumed over the unsolicited advice.  He says the things that irritate us most in others are usually those things in ourselves that we most hate or need to change. Ouch! Touche, mon frere. I suppose that means this blogging thing is a good idea for me. I can share what I’m learning and what I’m doing while keeping my own unsolicited advice to myself unless someone asks.

Now it’s time to step it up a notch so that I do look like I know what I’m talking about and have more chances to share what I’ve learned because someone asks. Thankfully, this will be relatively easy since most of the office is stepping it up with me. We hold each other accountable and support one another as we continue to make great strides in our health. There are some awe-inspiring successes from incredible amounts of weight loss to, more importantly, improved health markers in so many ways among us.

The support is important.  It’s fun!  We inspire each other. My co-worker, Steve, decided that he wanted to go hard-core for 30 days and follow the Whole 9 program.  Five of us in the office have agreed to jump on board with Steve which is what spawned this blog. After discussing upcoming events and temptations, we plan to start August 15. I’m nervous and excited about this new adventure.  This will be 30 days with no wine or dairy – both of which I love dearly. It also means I quit the hypocrisy of eating healthy and working out while polluting my lungs with cigarette smoke.

The countdown begins!

Written by Sonya

August 1, 2011 at 7:57 pm

Posted in Advice, Getting Started

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