Primal Blueprint Health Challenge – Days 4 – 6


You know, I kinda admire people who can take such great pictures of their food. They have much better cameras and lighting than me. They also have more patience. Really, I like to eat my food more than anything else. I have managed to take a few not-too-terrible pics for you of some of the things I have been eating in the last three days, though!

There are those fabulous bacon and guacamole sandwiches I talked about in the last post. I had six of these fabulously decadent little treats, using six strips of bacon total:

Guacamole sandwiched between bacon strips

Dr. Swank is rolling in his grave, God bless his soul.

It is kind of hard to OD on these things. They taste good. REALLY REALLY good. But they are so rich that they satiate you for the most part (and if nothing else, you feel like you should eat some fruit later just for balance).

Yesterday I took yet another recipe from Nom Nom Paleo, prosciutto-wrapped mini frittata muffins:

Ham wrapped egg frittata

So cute! So savory! So full of sulfur-rich veggies!

There was no prosciutto in the house (there rarely is), so I stole some of Hubby’s nitrate-free sliced ham. These babies are chock full of garlic, onion and some chopped chicken. I resisted the urge to completely cover them in halved cherry tomatoes and I am kind of glad I exercised that restraint. Earlier today I basically gorged on three handfuls of the cherry tomatoes that were left – moderation one day, full blown tomato-hedonism the next…

Instead of ravaging Hubby’s sandwich meat supply I only made four muffins with ham. The rest were baked sans wrapper, which didn’t turn out too bad but I think I will definitely want some from of wrapper for all of them the next time to avoid having some of the egg getting stuck to the muffin tin. I ate three of those ham-less muffins for breakfast this morning along with those cherry tomatoes, and then had this for lunch:

Kale and Sausage

Spicy. Fragrant. Kale and Sausage.

I know there are some Primals out there who don’t approve of store-bought smoked meats, but these sausages from Whole Foods are nitrate and preservative free. Also, I had them before I started the challenge and they are pretty pricey. So I am going to eat them, dammit! They can just go towards the 20% of the 80/20 rule the understanding Mark Sisson came up with.

The kale was a product of this modified recipe: I just excluded the cheese and used that narcotic mushroom and sage olive oil I have been loving so much. My. God. It was wonderful. I think I may have to prep some more kale like this tomorrow.

Friday and Saturday were my consecutive rest days. This morning I went on a 30 minute bike ride, which included some easy riding and two full out (and essential) sprints. When I got back home I managed 50 chair squats, 20 wall push ups, and Workout B.

Today Workout B looked like this:

3×5 bent over rows @ 45 lbs

3×5 standing military presses @ 35 lbs

400 foot farmers walk @ 15 lbs (I basically walk back and forth in my basement to do this)

I feel accomplished and full. Despite it being 99 degrees outside I am not being tormented by any MS-related heat intolerance. It will get into the triple digits later this week, however. I wish heat was tangible so I could punch it in the face.

Hope everyone else has had a good last couple of days!


Primal Blueprint Health Challenge – Days 1-3


ARGH. Blogging every day is SO hard. The past three days all I have wanted to do is come home, work out and then EAT.

My breath is all weird and kinda tasting funny. Not bad, just…funny. The Internet says this is a sign of ketosis. And I say, “I don’t care, I’m hungry NEED FOOD.

It’s not like I am starving. It’s just when it’s time for me to eat, it’s goddamn time to eat. So what have I been eating???

I can’t remember exactly what I ate for breakfast and lunch on Day One, but I SWEAR is/was paleo. By dinner, I thought enough to actually take some pictures.

Bott;e of mushroom sage olive oil

Words cannot even

This beautiful bottle pretty much made the night. There is a super fabulous spice purveyor several blocks down from the building I work in. They have a fabulous assortment of olive oils as well. I took a sample shot of this wild mushroom and sage blend during my last visit and my mind was completely blown. I knew I had to make SOMETHING with it.

Trader Joe's Baby Bella pre cuts

Trader Joe’s Baby Bella ‘shrooms

Look how creative I am, sautéing mushrooms with mushroom infused oil! I don’t have pictures of this plated because I basically ate them as soon as they were cooked (I’m telling you, I was HONGRY.) While the thought of watching pornography while having sex has never appealed to me (and I’ve never done it), I have to think that it is the closest abstract comparison I can make to eating these mushrooms. It’s just…mushrooms accented by mushrooms with the peppery kick of olive oil and the grassy bite of sage. Okay, nevermind. There’s no way porn paired with actual sex could be THIS good.

Pan seared stead

Pan-seared grass-fed yummy cow parts

The protein of the night was some pan seared flank steak. And no, I didn’t eat this all by myself! Hubby and I split it…for the most part. He had like, one bite left on his plate that he couldn’t finish so I downed it for him. The seasoning was pretty simple: the pieces were rubbed down with the mushroom and sage olive oil and liberally peppered and moderately salted. Yummy yum yum!

On to Day 2…

Scrambled eggs with peppers and carrots with guacamole

About 27 grams of protein, right here.

Here is the breakfast of champions: baby carrots with spicy guacamole and a four-egg omelet with mixed bell peppers. I pretty much ate this straight away at work. It seems that I can make it through a good part of the day on breakfast alone, but it definitely leaves me feeling famished by the time I get home and finish whatever workout I have planned for the day.

Trader Joe's Spicy Guacamole

Maybe the best hummus substitute evah.

This is the hummus I have been using. It is great for dipping the carrots into, and I am sure it is going to pair well with the cucumber I got the other day from one of my coworkers. Her garden is apparently threatening to take over her yard.

Later that night I made chili for me and Hubby, and had some leftovers for breakfast today on Day 3. I’ll try to remember to take a picture of the next batch. When I got home I snacked on some carrots and tomato slices while making hubby pasta. Typically I bake and then chop up some bacon for the pasta when I got a bright idea…

I really wanted to try this recipe from Nom Nom Paleo So I did.

All I can say about Michelle Tam is, Mama knows her stuff. I have been bookmarking different posts from Nom Nom Paleo all day and plan to use them throughout the challenge (I like how I say that as if this thing might have a definite end…)

The workouts every other day have been modified so that I a going through some of the essential primal movements (squats and push ups) and combining them with some lifting (mostly deadlifts and overhead military presses). No pull ups because I have weak girl arms, and no bench presses because I don’t have a bench. Yes, yes…it’s the most bootleg workout ever. I’ll re-evaluate this weekend. On my off days I either walk for a few miles or I strip away the last vestiges of my humanity doing cardio on the Wii Fit. (Note to self: must write post about love/hate relationship with Wii Fit.)

The pictures will stop here for now, mostly because my phone just died and I can’t email them to myself anymore. The quality of the pics definitely need work, and I have realized that I need to really start cleaning my kitchen if I am going to take pictures in it. Those stove burners are BAD.

Challenging Multiple Sclerosis with Primal Blueprint Health


I have a confession to make.

For the better part of the last year, I have been sweating the concept of “going primal”. And I have spent the better part of the last year half-assing it.

It’s time to end the pretender madness, honey. Today…it begins. Today…is the start of my 21-day Primal Blueprint Total Body TRANSFORMATION.

Ayla from ChronoTrigger

For some reason, my hair looks blonde here.

My first encounter with the primal/paleo concept occurred shortly after my MS diagnosis in January 2012. I was hitting the internet hard for information about my “new” condition (although I experienced at least one relapse as far back as 2008 – no diagnosis was made then). I was desperate for an answer and some hope that this unpredictable and  seemingly inexplicable disease could be made to just “go away”.

And if it wasn’t going to go away, I was determined to just ignore it.

The relapse that led to my diagnosis seemed to deepen as a response to my resolve. Numbness and tingling led to severe urinary hesitation. I lost the ability to button my shirts and sweaters. I developed some stupidly frustrating aphasia and would say things like “months” when I meant “weeks”, “hours” instead of “minutes” and “wife” instead of “husband” (this last one elicited a rather interesting reaction from a new coworker).

I went into hyper “me” mode and pummeled the internet for more answers. There were several sources that claimed a paleo diet is effective in managing the progression of the disease. Some even claimed (and personally testified) that going paleo can send MS into complete remission. Granted, there were other diets out there making similar claims, and supported by plenty of anecdotal evidence. They all seemed to make sense, and I wasn’t sure which way to go.

About a month into my research I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Terry Wahls at one of her talks about her own experience with managing and then resolving her own secondary progressive MS. Dr. Wahls went paleo and recovered. Her story was riveting. And I would be a liar if I said that I didn’t feel like I had come face to face with a guardian angel when she took my hand in both of hers and said “Rachel, doctors don’t know what they are doing when it comes to MS. Trust yourself and your body. Healing comes from the right foods.”

An angel backed by sunlight.

Yes, it was that goddamn dramatic.

I was sold.

Right away I ordered Minding My Mitochondria and after identifying all of my food allergies (yes, I went to an actual allergist and didn’t just fucking deduce this shit) I revamped my diet. My husband and I went full on free-range and grass fed with our meat. Only organic for produce. Fridays were for wild caught fish. My mother bought me a Vitamix to help me down all of the greens I was eating. In accordance with the Swank diet and what most paleo-ites were encouraging, I restricted my saturated and unsaturated fat. The progression of new symptoms halted, but I was still plagued by a persistent, soul-crushing fatigue and heat intolerance and rendered me mostly useless by 3 p.m. The fatigue magically dissipated overnight after I finally convinced (two different) doctors to give me a B-12 shot. One of those doctors has “allowed” me get a shot once a month since then. (Don’t get me started on that B-12 shot drama…)

While I love Dr. Wahls and the work she is doing, her book leaves something to be desired as far as organization and readability goes. I went in search of information to supplement what she had provided. That is when I found Mark’s Daily Apple.

Mark Sisson is a damn good writer. He is a fine researcher. His website provides reams of good information on the dangers of the SAD and why we need to take it back to the old school. And interestingly, what he was encouraging wasn’t exactly paleo.

Long story short, Mark’s reasoning made complete sense to me. I bought The Primal Blueprint 21-Day Total Body Transformation and read it in two days. A happily embraced olive and coconut oils again. I regularly had four egg omelets for breakfast.

But I also cheated. A lot.

I refused to give up Trader Joe’s Three-Layer Hummus, had a big bowl of rice noodles swimming in chicken pho a couple of times a month, happily heaped rice on my dinner plate and snacked on carb-y gluten free snacks. Once a week the hubby and I split some gluten-free rice pasta with bacon and marinara sauce (at least there was bacon in it).

Despite my reluctance to skip the pasta this week, I think it is time to draw that line in the sand.

It is time for me to go full primal, children. It begins…today.

I’ll make an update every day on what I’m eating and doing for exercise. Today I lifted some weights and now…time for me to go pan sear some steak to go with my mushrooms.

Today was weight lifting day – Suck it multiple sclerosis!


So I just got done lifting some weights in my basement. I don’t have a rack or a bench or any machines with pulleys. I just have a 20 lb bar and several sets of plates that I got off of Craigslist a month ago for $50. How very “I’m-going-to-spend-this-summer-trying-to-make-the-football-team” of me, you might think.

My reasons are simple.

One, I am a woman. An Asian woman. Osteoporosis is nasty, annoying shit. Bones were made to bear weight. Bones get denser under constant and progressive weight-bearing exercise. So I’m going to spit in the face of the treat of dissolving bones and maybe get “swole” in the process.

Me by the end of the year.

Two, no one likes a fatty. Whether it’s a fatty-fatty or a skinny-fatty.

Three, I have multiple sclerosis.

The benefits of strength training for MSers is a topic worthy of its own post. And my intent is to write that post very soon. But today I am going to prioritize my personal motivation and proceed to log the day’s workout. So you can stop reading right here if you want. I’m just going to drop some links to the resources I used to get started first: – really good basic info for anyone who wants the basics – really good basic and not-so-basic info specifically for women (with lots of enjoyable crass language) – form, form, form, form, FORM – a rather promising bit of news for MSers who like lifting heavy stuff



Height – 5’3

Weight – 0x90 (yeah, that’s hex alright)

“Workout B”

Warm up sets – 3×5 chair squats (5 lbs), 3×5 bent over rows (20 lbs), 3×5 standing military presses (20 lbs), 3×5 seated barbell twist (20 lbs)

Working sets – 3×5 chair squats (8 lbs), 3×5 bent over rows (30lbs), 3×5 standing military presses (30 lbs), 3×5 seated barbell twist (20 lbs)

The above amounts of weight are small. And they’re supposed to be. I’m just starting out and no stupid injury is going to get in my way. The goal is to increase in weight every week if possible but several factors will go into whether or not that actually happens.

I have two workouts, Workout A and Workout B. The idea is to life three days a week, and alternate the workouts like so:

Week One – Workout A, Workout B, Workout A

Week Two – Workout B, Workout A, Workout B (I was just hit buy the sudden urge to refer to these as “Werkouts”)

On the non-lifting days I do things like bike, stretch, walk and some other nonsense. Nothing strenuous (although maybe it should be). In a few weeks I will be adding some more “accessory work”, but in the meantime I am just focused on learning good form and figuring out how the hell to eat enough protein to support muscle growth.

I did some lifting this past Friday, and instead of waiting until tomorrow I decided to go for it again today. That gives me a somewhat strange sounding Friday, Sunday, Tuesday lift schedule. But that Mon/Wed/Fri shit is for the fitness magazines. I wanted to get going while I was still motivated and as sad as it sounds, waiting “just” one day can throw things off in the infancy of any new venture.

I’m off to bake some skinless, boneless chicken thighs now.


Me by the end of next year.



I’VE BEEN HERE FOR…months. And by “here”, I mean the general space I occupy on a day-to-day basis. Not this blog. Because obviously I am a substandard blogger and go months in between posts. I just wanted to make the nod to LL Cool J with that opening line.

The last several months have been filled with research and analysis that are about to give birth to many blog posts. Until then, enjoy the pic of a young LL rocking Kangol.

Worms to Whip Multiple Sclerosis (maybe)


So, a few months have gone by since my last post. The only reason for this has been pure sloth. The really disgusting part about this laziness is that I have been writing posts in my head. “”Oh, this would make a good post. I could use this pithy turn of phrase here, and find a non-copyrighted photograph of oligodendroglia to place just so…” etcetera.

It has gotten to the point where I am now forced to post SOMETHING  just to find relief for the sheer backlog of topics in my head. Also, I promised something in my last post. I believe it was claimed to be along the lines of the most exciting, mind-blowing news of the year (I could probably read my own blog to confirm whether or not I said this, but whatever). Given the unintentional hiatus I took, it will now be the most exciting, mind-blowing news of last year.

Back in October, my husband and I went to cool, hip and understatedly cosmopolitan Madison, Wisconsin. While my husband has family up north this was not a trip for pleasure, but one made in the name of science. After being tipped off by my other Rachel, I found an alternative multiple sclerosis treatment study was taking place at the University of Wisconsin. The theory being tested is that trichuris suis ova may benefit MS patients by down regulating the destructive inflammation that leads to new lesions in the central nervous system (CNS, if you’re nasty). This therapy has proven to be rather effective in treating Crohn’s disease in other studies, and so logically it is worth a shot for other inflammatory conditions. The results of the first phase  study with MS patients have been promising, so promising that phase two was starting up just as I found out about in through I was able to get in touch with the charismatic and amiable Dr. John Fleming, and made arrangements to attempt to qualify for the trial.

Now, if you haven’t Googled it already, trichuris suis ova is the scientific name for pig whipworm eggs. Yes, pig whipworm eggs.

Touch all of this skin, honey.

Touch all of this skin, honey.

I do want to take a minute here to state if the idea of intentionally getting worms freaks you out, stop reading. And when I say “stop reading”, I don’t mean just this post. I mean, go away and take your Diet Coke with you. Because I am going to write about even more freaky-deaky shiz as time goes on. And honestly, a controlled and sanitized clinical study at a renowned university hospital involving microscopic parasites may be the very LEAST of the wormy and germy things I am willing to do in the name of my well-being.



The husband and I spent about half a day at the U of W Department of Neurology to determine if I was qualified to get worms. There was some cognitive testing that was done, and quite a bit of blood drawn. The most telling results would come from the research MRI, however. At the time, I knew I met all of the criteria for participating in the study with the exception of having an active lesion on my brain. My last MRI was done in April at the Mayo clinic, which showed no actively enhancing lesions. But a lot can happen in just a few months, especially with a condition as unpredictable and vicious as MS.


What anthropomorphized MS might look like.

A good chunk of my stay was spent getting a fresh MRI done. And this just wasn’t your garden variety MRI, but a fabulously advanced research MRI that is supposed to show all sorts of things you couldn’t see otherwise without glamorously high definition resolution. (Disclaimer: This is just my understanding of how a research MRI is different. I might be over-exaggerating here.)

It took a few weeks to get the results back, and when Dr. Fleming finally did call the news was…not what I was expecting.

Evidently they managed to find a lesion. A lesion less than a millimetre in length. A lesion so small it took TWO radiologists to figure out what it was. A lesion that for all intents and purposes was already dying down (inflammation-wise). I was really expecting an all or nothing scenario. Either my brain would be spotless and decidedly un-inflammed, or that is would be ravaged like fiery and wrinkly swiss cheese. But, no. Just this tiny, almost imperceivable lesion that a regular MRI would not have picked up.

I was pretty stunned. Dr. Fleming assured me that the results were great, that it meant my condition was very stable. Technically, I still qualified for the study. But I had to think about it. For as many curve balls that were thrown at me over the last year, I was still unprepared for that news (which, in retrospect, was silly of me).

After some soul searching, a health retrospective and several conversations with my husband I decided to decline participating in the study. I really good the best news I could have possibly received. While a lesion is definitely a “not good” thing, the fact that I had one and it had such a short life was an awesome thing. It suggests that everything I have been doing to keep my levels of systemic inflammation low are working. That, or by virtue of being young and nubile (snicker) I have kick ass powers of recovery. Looking back, I think that lesion came about because of a cold I had been fighting all that week. I was very worried that my immune system might get a little crazy because of it. But like a naughty teenager who had thrown a house party while the parents were away, it managed to glue that broken vase back together just in time…okay, I don’t think that analogy makes any fucking sense. But I will leave it here until I think of a better comparison.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I would have absolutely loved to throw some worms back every two weeks. But the drive to Madison can be long and dark, and making that drive during the winter did not seem like a very welcoming idea (in fact, the only bad part of the trip was the fact we arrived in WI under the cover of darkness – that state is PITCH BLACK at night). There was also the time I would have to take off of work, the cost of gas and lodging, the time I would be away from my SO… The stress alone might have been enough to counter the good vibes from the worms!

Would I have gone through with it if I my brain was on fire? Well…I don’t know. What I do know is if the trial goes nationwide and I can get worms closer to home…well, who the hell doesn’t like providing a stool sample in order to get parasites?

Great Moments in Multiple Sclerosis Knitting #1


Knitting a sock with a four row pattern repeat, only to notice that the pattern is starting to look different about two inches into making the leg. It slowly dawns on me that I knit the last damn pattern repeat backwards, knitting Rows 4 through 1 as opposed to Rows 1 through 4. This actually required me to read off of the note card with the pattern breakdown from the bottom up, instead of from the top down(as required by most written languages on the planet Earth). Mental note made to stick to simple garter stitch projects when tired.

(Last post I suggested I would be writing about the goodness of crafting with yarn in general, but this sock SNAFU derailed the plan. To paraphrase a non-hologramed Tupac Shakur – Knitters, holla if ya hear me.)