Paleo Experiment: Days 8-14

Welcome back to the Paleo experiment, where I document 30 days on the Paleo diet. We are halfway finished with our experiment! Here’s what I’ve got on the questions I’d originally posited.

1. Is it affordable?

This week we spent a total of $239.52 on groceries. This included about $25 on Boston Market’s chicken and sides (no we did not eat cornbread or get the brownies, cookies or soda), so really could have been a bit less. Anyway, it’s just under $120 per person. We did the bulk of our shopping at Trader Joe’s, though, which I think saved us quite a bit. Ideally we’d like to spend about $100 a week each, but I think experimenting with the wide variety of foods like we have been will help us figure out what we want to splurge on later and where we can save.

2. Will it make me crazy?

We’ve definitely both felt a bit lethargic lately, but have been told this could simply be due to switching from burning carbs to burning fats. Time will tell.

3. Any cravings?

I’m eating about one dark chocolate bar a week, which is taking care of cravings for now. Sugar cravings are like a monster; the more you feed it the more it will grow. So I think really paying attention to and limiting those feedings is a good idea anyway (Paleo or not).

4. Will it support my workouts and sport?

I’ve gotten all of my workouts in, though feeling a bit tired is kind of slowing me down and putting a damper on things. I think this will turn around soon.

5. Am I going to lose weight?

So far I’ve lost about 3 lbs. It looked as if I’d lost 4 a few days ago, but could just have been a fluctuation. I hadn’t really expected to lose any weight, but can’t say I exactly mind. I’m interested in what happens over the next 2 weeks–will keep you posted.

Audio Interview #1: Pace and Kyeli (Take 2)

About a week ago, I posted an interview with the amazing Pace and Kyeli of Freak Revolution Connection Revolution.

Unfortunately, the audio was a little echo-y, but Pace let me use her audio which was much better. (I accidentally hit post before I was ready, and did not want my dear subscribers to get a dead link, but let’s forget about that, shall we?)

So here’s the cleaner version of the interview, where we discuss finding common ground with people who are different from us and using connection to change the world.


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Unfortunately, the music didn’t make it on this version, so you’ll have to tune in next episode, when I speak with Susan Wooldridge, author of poemcrazy and Foolsgold: Making Something from Nothing (and freeing your creative process). Swing back by in two weeks, or sign up for the newsletter and don’t miss a thing!

Yael’s Variety Hour: Changing the World (With Video)

Welcome back to the variety hour, where I share my favorite article links (or, in this case, videos) once a week.

How to Tell People They Sound Racist

Hint: focus on what they said, not what they are. This video really captures the best way to address racist language without getting into a pissing contest with the person you wish to confront, or giving them an easy out. Very salient points.

Sunitha Krishnan fights sex slavery

It amazes me both how prevalent the human trafficking industry is, how gruesome and truly disgusting it is, and the work heroes like Sunitha Krishnan are doing to help survivors. Very powerful, but not for the faint of heart as it features disturbing stories and graphic images.

And, on a much lighter note…

Stephen Fry Kinetic Typography – Language

Good editors are awesome. They use a light touch, helping perfect your writing by catching typos or suggesting minor changes (as opposed to putting their paws all over your work which is fine the way it is) and are both experienced and savvy. This video helps explain the delicate balance between respect for language and love of grammar.

Space Balloon

A very cool science experiment involving video from a camera attached to a weather balloon that rises into the upper stratosphere recording the blackness of space. This is pretty awesome

Shameless self-promotion:
This week’s posts are all MMA-related. I wrote about new heavyweight champion Cain Velasquez and, just in time for Halloween, a piece on the most harrowing experiences between MMA fighters and journalists that I could find (with lots of video.)

‘Til next week! Ta ta!

Paleo Experiment: Days 1-7

As mentioned last week, I decided to embark on a 100% Paleo experiment for 30 days, and document the pros and cons and anything I learn along the way.

First, the answers to the five questions I originally posited.

1. Is it affordable?

My boyfriend and I spent $247.00 for the week. We had olive oil and some other foods we needed in our pantry, but not a lot. $123.50/person is ~500 bucks a month each, which is a bit more than we would like to spend.

We did buy almost all organic produce, much of which was purchased at a food co-op. We also bought all grassfed beef and free range chicken, which made things more expensive.

Ways we want to save money for week 2 include buying some food at Trader Joe’s, using some leftover grassfed beef we purchased in bulk from a local rancher, and being selective about which organic produce we purchase and which we can get away with conventional produce. (I actually wrote an article about this for the Performance Menu which you can read for about $3 if you’re not a subscriber.) We could also stick completely to seasonally grown produce, get a CSA membership or garden.

We could, of course, save money by eating grain-fed beef, but I feel pretty strongly about only consuming animals which are allowed to freely roam and are treated humanely.

2. Will it make me crazy?

My mood has been pretty decent for the past week. Ups and downs as always, but I do feel a bit more even-keeled. So no, avoiding grains and legumes has not made me crazy yet.

I was a bit hungry at first, but simply increasing portion size seems to have taken care of that.

I’ve also been sleeping fairly well most nights (though haven’t gotten to bed as early as I maybe should on most days).

Lastly, my digestion is pretty great on this diet.

3. Any cravings?

I am not going to lie. I always want sugar. This week I was specifically tempted with creme brulee, and I saw some amazingly sugary drinks at various cafes which had all sorts of whipped cream toppings. I know you’re not supposed to covet, but I did indeed, and my green tea and dark decaf coffee did not improve things. We did eat one dark chocolate bar each, which wasn’t all that helpful. I also had some sugar-free gum, which was okay. So I did crave sugar, but not grains, which I can live with.

4. Will it support my workouts and sport?

I’ve been primarily working on strength endurance and metabolic conditioning, and I’m happy to report that my work output is steadily improving. My recovery is also quite decent. I don’t know how I’d feel if I was still lifting very heavy things, but it is the type of work I’m doing now that I thought I’d need the most carbs for, and it looks like carbs in the form of vegetables and sometimes fruit are working just fine.

5. Am I going to lose weight?

My boyfriend and I both lost about 2.5 lbs. of fat, mostly around our bellies, in just one week. I’m in fairly decent shape already and he is in amazing shape. Needless to say, this was a pleasant surprise. I would’ve been happy with anywhere from 1/2 lb. to 1 lb. Not sure if this will continue, but of course I will keep you posted.

Other lessons learned:

Variety, baby

We were very impressed with the amazing variety of foods we were exposed to. Who knew that raw cabbage with tuna and toasted sesame oil = yum? Or that leftover rotisserie chicken is so good with salsa and avocado for breakfast? The diet made me remember that Paleo isn’t just eggs, chicken and salad greens but also salmon, tuna, pork, ham, bratwurst, lamb, shrimp, zucchini, cauliflower, green beans, spaghetti squash, sweet potatoes, bell peppers, asparagus, spinach, purple cabbage, berries and broccoli slaw.


Scotty’s recipes have very liberal doses of oregano, thyme, rosemary, basil, cinnamon, cumin and turmeric, as opposed to the teeny tiny amounts I’d been using (and never really tasted) in my meals. Balsamic vinegar, unsweetened marinara sauce, Dijon mustard and various nuts were used in ways I hadn’t imagined. They all seemed pretty strange on paper, but when we actually tried them they were absolutely delish.


A week on the Paleo diet has offered great digestion, slightly improved athletic performance/recovery and slightly improved body composition. The recipes offered variety and the yum factor mostly made up for the foods we’re missing (namely sugar, for me.) The price of groceries wasn’t crazy but is a bit more than I’d like to spend, so I’m looking into adjustments.

Back next week with the second update.

Audio Interview #1: Pace and Kyeli!

I decided to start offering interviews every two weeks to highlight some of my favorite people around the interwebs and the great work they are doing.

This week, I spoke with Pace and Kyeli of Connection Revolution, formerly Freak Revolution. I was intrigued by the transformation, so decided to pick their brains a bit. Enjoy the 15 minute interview, where we discuss connection, finding common ground with our opposites and changing the world.

Special thanks to Brett Bakshis for the music, and Kelli Wise for editing.

My apologies for the echo and sound quality.


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Next episode, I’ll be speaking with Susan Wooldridge, author of poemcrazy and Foolsgold: Making Something from Nothing (and freeing your creative process). Swing back by in two weeks, or sign up for the newsletter and don’t miss a thing!

Yael’s Variety Hour

Welcome back to the variety hour! Here’s my favorite links for the week, now with music!

Gem of the Week

This You. Beautiful post (and audio) on how powerful we can be when we stop hiding.

For laughs

Local Idiot To Post Comment On Internet and I’m Afraid We Will Never Win In Afghanistan Unless Central Command Gets A Pinball Machine are two great pieces from the Onion, one old and one new.

Hyperbole and a Half: Boyfriend Doesn’t Have Ebola. Probably is a hysterical piece about those dumb pain charts in hospitals nationwide.

Ever get tired of unsolicted advice?

Me too. Here are three songs about that… in very different genres.

Sara Bareilles – King Of Anything

Screeching Weasel – My Right

Ani DiFranco – Not a Pretty Girl (cover)

Shameless self-promotion

I have quite a few pieces up on the internet this week, so here’s just a few of them.

I wrote an article for Straight to the Bar on how to get your gym on the map–literally.

I was lucky enough to get to interview teen hearthrob MMA fighter Urijah Faber for MMA HQ.

And finally, I wrote a piece for MMA Ratings, MMA Fighters: What’s With the Attitude?

Yael’s Variety Hour

Is it just me, or was this week especially awesome on the internets? Here are seven great posts I found, plus two resources and a couple of my own articles around the web.

For Laughs

47,143 people liked this hysterical cartoon of obnoxious or annoying e-mail behaviors, so chances are good you’ve already seen it. But just in case…

From the Onion. Sounds about right.

For Foodies

Leslie Kruempel wrote this insightful article on reasons you should eat local, even if reducing your carbon footprint ain’t one. (She’s @realfoodmn on twitter.)

Michael Pollan is my hero. And who hasn’t wanted to make as many dishes as possible in 30+ hours for all meals? Got and produce and mushrooms, oh my!

For Writers and Bloggers

There are some! Kelly James-Enger explains.

Nuff said.

Without ripping them off from others.

Some recommendations

  • Wisestamp helps you create beautiful e-mail signatures on Gmail (using Richtext, on Firefox). They can also include your facebook, twitter and LinkedIn profiles as well as your latest blog post. And it’s free!
  • Remember the Milk is an awesome site for task management, including an online to-do list and other bells and whistles. Also free.

It’s Me! On Other Sites!

My guest post for Tim Brownson’s awesome blog, A Daring Adventure. I’m honored.

In which I accuse UFC president Dana White of whitewashing.

Your turn…

Any posts I missed from the past week that you thought were especially awesome? Leave ’em in the comments.

My Paleo Experiment (Or: 30 Days Without Ice Cream)

I’ve been almost Paleo for as long as I can remember. Meals are easy. I like eating eggs for breakfast, have been known to order freezer packs of grassfed beef directly from farmers, and absolutely love a nice fresh salad. It’s the snacking that always gets to me. As much as I love eating meat and vegetables, I also love eating chocolate, jellybeans and other sundry snacks. Sugary soft drinks were a problem when I was working as a teacher, and I find them slowly creeping back into my diet during high-stress weeks riddled with deadlines.

When I lived in Tucson, it was a lot easier to limit snacks to weekly or bi-weekly cheat meals. Living in Eau Claire has made this a lot more challenging. I can’t ride my bike to community acupuncture when feeling frazzled, and don’t really have anything that could be considered a support system (at least, not compared to my wonderful desert friends.) Finding an outlet has been pretty challenging.

However, as a long-time advocate of the Paleo diet (managing editor of the Performance Menu, one of the proofreaders for Robb Wolf’s book and co-conspirator in the T-Nation interview, etc.) I really want to put my money where my mouth is.

It helps that Scotty’s recipes are awesome. Plus, all the cool kids are doing it. That includes Tim Brownson and Tim Ferriss.

SO I am about to embark on the 30-day Paleo challenge. And as a huge believer in transparency, I’d like to cover this process openly. Here are the questions I’d like to answer for myself and, of course, for all of you.

  • Is it affordable? I’m not really big on pasta or anything, but have been known to eat rice and other cheap carbs from time to time. I’ll be documenting the exact cost of groceries for the Paleo diet, as outlined in the Paleo Solution, for two people.
  • Will it make me crazy? Specifically, I’m wondering if my mood improves after the first 10 days or so and how I feel on this diet (no cheats included). I was noting to a friend the other day that eating gluten always leads to existential crises, so even when I do start incorporating 10% meals again I’d like to completely eradicate gluten from my diet.
  • Will it support my workouts and sport? I’m a BJJ player on hiatus and am about to start this killer intense workout program written by Troy Anderson to help me get my cardio up so I’ll be ready to train again after we move in just over 6 weeks. As much as I think health is important, I’d be lying if I said succeeding in the gym and on the mat wasn’t a priority. Will I be tired on such low carbs, or will it help me ramp things up and kick some ass?
  • Am I going to lose weight? Actually, I’m more concerned with body fat percentage than poundage. Specifically, I am wondering how big of an effect my non-Paleo snacks have been having on my body composition.

I will not be doing blood tests at this time. The last time I got them checked my numbers were very good and my doctor even asked me if I was an athlete. It was a grand moment.

I’ll be posting weekly updates for the next month or so. Feel free to chime in if you’re also doing the 30-day experiment, or if you have any questions or anything to add.

The Sandhill Crane Migration

It was a beautiful, clear day when we decided to venture out to Crex Meadows for the sandhill crane migration. Although the birds were roosting further away, we did get to see them flying quite close overhead. Unfortunately, my video footage is not nearly as good as my video of us chasing capuchin monkeys, but I did take some good photos.

If You Are Here, This Is For You

If you are here, this is for you. That was the name of the one-man performance art show written by Rob Horne, which I saw it performed by Brian Ora Coya back in 1998.

I met Brian at Cleveland Food Not Bombs, where I’d show up every Sunday to help cook soup for the homeless. Brian was passing through on a two-day tour. (The second day he performed in Chicago at the amazing Hotel Kafka; read the Chicago Tribune review here.) Brian rode freight trains and did performance art, and he sold copies of photographs he took while he was traveling.

Although I’ve never wanted to hop trains myself, I was drawn to his ideas on freedom and following your dreams and finding your way in the real world, not the one that has been created for you. And yet there was such a strong sense of restlessness, discontent and longing… It was raw and honest and grating and real. I wanted to share some quotes from the script. I’ve left the typos, etc. intact to maintain the spirit of the piece.

“once, it was said of me that i showed promise, of what i am not certain, but i felt early on that this promise, in the world of those who would say such things, could only mean a slow spiritual death for me, and that if i were ever to assume the raiment of my true self that this promise must remain unfulfilled in the eyes of the world. in this way it could gain some sort of a meaning, even for me.

i have tried entering the gates of the spectacle, mingling with the guests, engaging in late night barroom confidences & drunken feats, great sudden pooltable smirks like a mongol in a mall, a haj in detroit, a flame under water. there is nothing there for me, nothing but laments, sighs and unsung dirges and from these i am tired unto wakefullness. i must leave….” [Read more…]