Happy New Year! Welcome to 2013. Hope you all are fresh and ready to tackle another year of slaying Mammoth for food! I have spent all of my time over the Holiday break picking the right stones and sharpening my sticks in anticipation of storing some meat for the upcoming months. I never thought I would be ringing in 2013 with the mindset of a modern Cavewoman!
In all seriousness preparation is a Mammoth size task when it comes to insuring you have the right things to keep on track with your nutrition. If you are one of the ‘resolutioners’ that likes to set up goals for a bunch of things that you will do differently this year this should be one at the top of your list. I generally make resolutions daily, so for me I don’t need the sundial to tell me to keep up with doing things that make me a better Cavewoman.
We just got back from a trek to Telluride Colorado with a group of 8 others all sharing the same cave. It reminded me of the old days of having cavemates. We spent 6 days and 5 nights together as a community. This situation is really very similar to much of how our ancestors behaved. This is a quote from BBC and the description they gave of our current species the Homo Sapien starting 150,000 years ago up to today.
“The appearance of modern humans coincides with the appearance of highly crafted tools, efficient food-gathering strategies and a complex social organization.
Early modern humans lived in mobile groups and established extensive social networks to trade goods and exchange gifts. These networks probably developed for the purpose of securing future favors when times were hard. And it seems that times were indeed hard for some of the first modern humans.
During the last Ice Age, humans were pushed to the edge of extinction, perhaps by famine and drought caused by a sharp drop in global temperatures. For these early modern humans, an increased reliance on social alliances and creativity was key to their survival.”
We certainly were not fighting to survive at the same level as our ancestors, however considering we were all flying down a mountain at high speeds on modern vessels called snowboards and ski’s we certainly relied on each others expertise and experience to insure safety and survival. We all longed to board another day without injury.
Our ancestors did not work a typical 40+ hour week like we do, however much of what they did was in fact prepare for getting their nutrition. This was considered fun according to many accounts. They spent much time practicing, playing and prepping their tools and team for what would be needed once given the chance to perform. Our community did much of the same. We prepared our tools and told stories of what happened on previous trips to the mountain to learn from others. We also spend an enormous amount of time figuring out when and where to eat our meals.
For the most part, everyone on the trek was an easygoing eater. They did not have any crazy dietary restrictions or needs. I was the exception to that along with another cavemate that is a vegetarian/vegan. Her and I have quite a few differences in our diets, as well as many similarities. Our sense of community was very in tune as we shared things that we knew each other could enjoy. She had so many awesome recipes for vegan alternatives that I was able to try.
To prepare myself for treks like this, I choose to not use the high maintenance Cavewoman crutch… make everyone else suffer and be inconvenienced by your eating habits. I am certainly one of THEM but absolutely not one of THOSE… Self Sufficiency is absolutely a must in these scenarios, after all I am a modern Cavewoman for crying out loud! Speaking of, spell check acknowledges the word CAVEMAN however tries to correct CAVEWOMAN. Sheesh.
I knew I could get a few things while there. Even during our visit in the summer to Nicaragua for a surfing adventure I was able to locate some Almond Milk. Some items were not available anywhere and those I had to haul along with me in my trusty Mammoth skin bag. I did my best to pack light as our community needed to share space for all of our belongings. The essential items I brought along were my non GMO pea protein mix, cinnamon, raw honey, probiotics, supplements, frozen fruit and a half gallon of Almond milk to get me started on day 1. We also did our homework to find out what they had available as far as tools in the kitchen.
While there the first place we hit was a grocery store. There were plenty of things I could get there daily to keep me on track. I got bananas, avocados, hard boiled eggs, and a rotisserie chicken. With these few items I always had on hand what I needed to get my nutrition and stay on track. As boring as this sounds for me it was not about the gluttonous food on the trip, it was about getting the right foods to fully enjoy every second of adventure that was waiting for me.
Generally when I take a vacation I am one of those that enjoys it as active as possible. For me this IS relaxing and non stressful. Plenty of people give me the strange look when I say this as they think of vacation it is laying on a beach sipping a several 600 calorie drinks. This link shows a cool comparison to some of the popular gooey blender vacation type alcoholic drinks and fast food:
This to me sounds more stressful than when my snowboard hits an ice patch mid S turn and I start rocketing out of control at a blistering pace down the side of a mountain. It takes SO MUCH discipline to stay on track with my nutrition, the thought of this kind of overindulgence gives me a ‘Case of the Mondays’ and the next thing you know I am stressing out about where my red stapler is.
When I go on a trip like this one, each day is filled with enormous amounts of adrenaline inducing activity. I do release cortisol during many of the sports I choose however as our history and pathology uncover those ARE the types of stressors we are meant to physiologically endure. Lets talk about stress, vacation, glucocorticoids and obesity.
We experience really ridiculous causes of stress. Everyday stress like traffic, someone cutting you off, being late for a meeting, other people’s stress, the list can go on and on. Nice article by Penn State regarding how OUR reactions to the stress is what is killing us, not the stress itself:
These stressors add up and leave us chronically stressed and ultimately obese. When you experience true fight or flight stress, those little things become so miniscule. When it is time to truly take a trek adventure comes calling loudly. You’re primed to get some adrenaline flowing! That saber tooth tiger is going to meet his match!
If you are into the more scientific reaction of stress this is a great article from Robb Wolf’s website talking about the link between stress and obesity:
As you can see, stress makes you crave all those comfort foods. Generally the level of stress our ancestors felt was a quick burst of fight or flight, or in my case an icy patch that caused me to take a major digger. Once that is over and I have an AWESOME bruise to show for it I practically profess my love for my helmet to everyone I can then get ready to put my feedbag on. Here is where it gets tricky.
If you talk to my Caveman, I am no fun to go on vacation with when it comes to eating gluttonous comfort foods. His favorite? A big ole mammoth burger with fries and a frosty brew. He does not have the same health issues that I do so he does indulge in these kinds of foods on vacation and he is totally fine with just breaking even after a trip like this.
For me, I look at this as an opportunity to INCREASE my fitness level and maybe even drop a pound or two of fat. Considering I am an intermediate boarder I take plenty of falls, increasing the already high caloric output that is burned during this activity. That reminds me… time to put an extra few weighted sets of tricep dips into my workout routine. OUCH!
I along with the vegan/vegetarian in the house I ate most of my meals PRIOR to going out for dinner. It didn’t mean I could not be social or enjoy an appetizer, just that I knew the majority of what I NEEDED was in my system. I also choose not to eat on the mountain unless it was a coconut bar or some friendly nuts and raisins.
We did get one amazing dinner out at a Thai spot that had lots of fresh sashimi. I also had 2 of what is considered the Paleo biochemists version of a margarita!! It was NYE and all!
In a small town like this one the dining options are slim and crowded. It was also an average of 2 degrees most nights and we were not driving at all so that meant we walked everywhere. One thing that is NEVER an option for me, skipping a meal. I am not into self cannibalizing. Several of the nights I had an avocado with a couple hard boiled eggs, banana and cinnamon for dessert.
My caveman wanted to pull me outside by my hair and bury me in the snow when I would suggest these options to him! It became a joke in the house. I didn’t see him complaining with twice as much ski time than he had a year ago because he is fitter! But really I was doing no harm to anyone, not asking anyone else to be responsible for MY choices, nor did I have any excuse to not get the right mix of things into my body. I also got to meet a fellow ‘health foody’ that has a blog with many great things on it that I can safely indulge in. Rather than being embarrassed or unprepared for my way of eating I was able to share my philosophies and some of my healthy treats with others.
The drive home was a long one, we spent about 8-9 hours on the road. My Caveman likes to stop at every largest ball of yarn or similar roadside attraction we can. I had a shake early on in the day but was out of travel food. This meant…. sideshow gas station food shopping. Once again, no excuse to not stay on track.
I found some things that worked quite well. READ LABELS. That is the number one thing. Beef jerky is a common roadtrip staple. They are not all created equal!! I found some awesome natural jerky that contained none of the typical preservatives nor did it use any sugar. It was also DELICIOUS. This along with a bag of cashews and a handful of raisins gave me the fuel I needed to stop and see all the roadside attractions my Caveman called for.
I came home from the trip healthy, rested, relaxed, and more ripped than when I left. That my cavepeeps is my DREAM vacation. Who else can say they rang in the New Year in BETTER shape than they were a week earlier? THIS CAVEWOMAN can. It really is nice to start off the New Year ahead of the game.
On your next adventure, prepare for your travel. Be a progressive Cavewoman, not a high maintenance one!
I am not a dietitian, nutritionist, or certified trainer. I am a normal, smart, professional Woman who is also an athlete. I was diagnosed with a very serious case of diverticulitis and within moments almost lost 60% of my G.I. tract due to it. Once in recovery to avoid surgery going forward I did a tremendous amount of research and adopted a Paleo lifestyle. The results I have personally seen and felt are worth sharing. I am fortunate to have a network of professional athletes from many walks of life, nutritionists, trainers and other medical professionals to learn from. I am sharing my personal journey for those of you who experience similar types of health issues or are simply interested in the information I gather. I hope it encourages you and points you in the right direction to research further for your own personal well being. For those of you who are looking to share in my relentless hiking passion, or those who simply enjoy learning about the things I come across I am happy to have you all along on this incredible ride!