Category Archives: Original

Primal Ultra Low Carb Sausage & Egg Cheesy Biscuits

CheesyjalapenobiscuitsOne of my favorite recipe books is Transforming Recipes, and it is meant as a low-carb cookbook with health and fitness in mind. Some of the recipes from the book are on Kiefer’s site, athlete.io, but some aren’t, and the book has a lot of options. The authors actually just put out an ultra low carb dessert recipe book as well, though I haven’t checked it out yet.

But one of the things that I really like from the book is their Ultra Low Carb Cheesy Jalapeno Biscuits as breakfast food. I remove the Jalapeno and onion powder since it is a breakfast food, but goodness it is tasty.

So, the first step is to make your biscuits. I used butter instead of coconut oil, and like i said above, I didn’t put in the jalapeno and onion powder. I also used Dubliner cheese instead of cheddar, and love the flavor it gives. It does use butter and cheese, so this is not hardcore paleo, but for those of us who are a little more realistic, and who can do dairy without issue, it’s a good option.  It made 6 biscuits for me, which is enough for myself and some for later.

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Now, as for the goodness on the biscuit itself, I do a pound of sausage typically in even portions to go along with these 6 biscuits, which allows for the sausage to stick off the sides like your sausage should. Then I took 4 eggs and 3 egg yolks and did a hard scramble to allow it to sit in the pan and harden. This way I could fold it onto the biscuits for later without little pieces of scrambled egg falling in my lap.  These biscuits do form quite well, and rise a little bit, so when you cut through them, they will cut pretty well and be pretty fluffy compared to most paleo biscuits that tend to fall apart on me.

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What you don’t see is that i also added some tomato, and you could add some paleo mayo and shredded lettuce for a divine breakfast if you want.  My plan is to freeze them like the picture above, with sausage and egg already prepared, and then heat them up on days when I don’t have time or don’t feel like fixing something, kind of like I do with the Ultra Low Carb Pancakes.

 

The Case for Long Term Health Through Working Out – Part 1 – Why I workout

workoutmachiinesI obviously workout to look good. End of article.

Okay, maybe not. When someone says they workout, what comes to mind about their ambitions or goals? In my mind, the first thing is that they want to look good to the opposite sex. And, while that may be true to some extent for everyone who works out, it is not the ultimate goal for some of us. I am going to go over the main reasons why I workout, and while looking good is on my list, it is much further down my list than it was even a few years ago.

1) Ability to Play with my Kids – My joints are far from perfect. Ever since high school, my knees have hurt and ached regularly disallowing me to move normally. This has never been more evident than in playing with my kids. When getting up and down from the floor causes me to move in unnatural ways and find something to pull up on, it means I need to do something. I love playing with my kids. I love getting in the floor and roughhousing. I love running around the house or outside with them. And I know that if I keep playing with my kids and showing them how to play, they will take that and expect to play that way for a very long while, instead of looking at me sitting on the couch saying “Daddy’s too tired” or watching me playing a video game or on the iPad. And I am fine with those things from time to time, but they should know that when you really want to play and have fun, it typically constitutes active play, not passive.  And the best place to learn that is from their parents.

2) Long Term Health – As I said before, I have had joint issues since I was a teenager and have never really recovered. And if those joint issues are bad now, in my early 30’s and before, then they are only going to get worse if I don’t make changes. It’s so interesting to go to the supplements store or health store and talk about supplements and health with the workers at the store. Most of the time, these workers are older, and they are shocked that someone my age is actually looking at this. And the line that I typically get is, “I wish I had been interested in this when I was your age”. And I’m glad that I am interested in my long term health and hope that it allows me to see my children grow up, and their children as well. With the widespread prevalence of so many chronic diseases that are treatable, it is even more now than ever, a priority to stay healthy and pay attention to how you treat your body so that it will last a very long time. When I look at other cultures and the health they maintain compared to looking around in America, it means that we weren’t meant to spend our golden years in nursing homes or at doctor’s visits, but instead were meant to share our knowledge with those around us, and enjoy our time here.

3) My Body is a Temple –

“Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies” – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

I dont’ know that I need to expand on this, but I will give my two cents anyway. Our bodies were given to us by God, and within us dwells the Holy Spirit. Because of this, we should glorify God with the way we treat our bodies. How we maintain it through input and activity can make a huge difference in the effectiveness and length of our ministry. One overlooked thing in the Bible that most people don’t want to talk about is gluttony. In the south, when there is a big church event, there is always a potluck that is dominated by comfort food and most people end up with multiple plates, eating until they are in pain. I don’t know about you, but in my opinion, that is not glorifying to God. God wants us to have fellowship as a church, and to enjoy the food he has allowed us to make through his creation, but eating until you can’t button your pants, or eating food-like-substances on the fellowship hall table does not qualify.  We are meant to be set apart from the rest of the world, and this is another example of a way that we can distinguish ourselves from everyone else, through the way we eat and what we do with our bodies.

4) Protection for myself and my family – I never thought about protection until I had a family. I was just like most kids who simply thought about myself. But as soon as you get married, and especially when you bring kids into your life, you start realizing that the world is not a safe place, at least not the world we live in. So you have to start thinking about what would happen if worse came to worse and someone tried to hurt your family. You can buy guns and security systems, and live in safe neighborhoods, but if you are out on a date, even in a nice part of town, and you happen to be around the wrong person at the wrong time, all you have is your physicality. So, you have to strengthen yourself in order to provide for and protect your family in any way possible. I have thought many times about doing some sort of martial arts to help with this one, and it is on my list of things to do, but I haven’t gotten there yet. But protecting my family is a big deal, and doing some sort of training/working out can make all the difference in a confrontation.

5) Looking Good for my Wife – This one is probably up higher for most people as it is all about looking good for the opposite sex, but my wife and I have been together long enough to where this isn’t at the top since we’ve made a vow to each other for life no matter how we look, and we plan to do just that. But that being said, I still want to be wanted by my wife, and even though looks aren’t near as important for women as they are for men, it is still high enough on the list to make me try harder. My wife is a very loving person and she wouldn’t comment on my looks if she knew that I was at all self-conscious, but when I look through her eyes, I want to be able to see someone that she feels lucky to have, instead of someone who has gone downhill since we got married. I don’t care about what other women think, though it always feels good to be admired, but if my wife looks at me in a way that says “You look good!” or admires me when I take off my shirt, my pride shoots through the roof!

6) Feeling Good about Myself – Again, some people would put this higher up the list, but for me, I think this is a perfect spot. I don’t have major self-esteem issues and have never been heavy, but I do feel better and more confident in all parts of my life if I am in shape and really paying attention to how I treat my body. When you sit down in a meeting with a new client and you are self-conscious of your spare tire, do you think that helps or hurts your chances with that client? When you are comparing yourself to everyone else, which we all do to an extent, you can feel good about the way you look and the way you handle yourself compared to your peers who are struggling with so many health issues. Again, for many people who have more body issues, this would be much higher on the list with reason, but for me, this is a bit further down, but still definitely on my list.

7) Be Better at Sports and Activities – I love playing basketball, and other sports as well, but basketball is my love.  Competing in a sport is something that gets my blood pumping and makes me feel good, even if I am not very good at it. I’ll talk about the evolution of sports in a future post, but for now, I simply want to acknowledge that the better shape I am in, the better chance I have to do well in sports instead of being restricted by my aches, pains, and lack of muscles. I play basketball once a week, both for exercise, as well as for the actual act of playing ball. I get to play with some guys that I enjoy being around, and the sport itself has been something I have loved ever since I was young. So seeing progress in my vertical or the speed of running down court on a fast break makes me feel good, especially when it is noticed by my peers to show that I can compete.  So, when I am doing squats at my next workout, I need to remember that this is for my vertical and will help me rebound better the next time around.

We all have different goals and thoughts about working out, but I would wager that many of these that I have listed also fit into your goals as well. Sports may be first on your list, and kids couldn’t be farther from the top of your list, but either way, think about why you are working out, and try to focus on what will accomplish those goals in the long-term.

I know this is a long article, so I have broken it up into a part two of HOW I workout to accomplish these things. It won’t be nearly as long, I don’t think, but keep an eye open for the second part: The Case for Long Term Health Through Working Out – Part 2 – How I Workout.

What are your reasons for working out?

How food allergies fit into Paleo – Top 8

Allergy_foodMy kids, as I have described before, have food allergies, which is one of the reasons why we read labels so feverishly in our house. So, anything related to food allergies have my full attention as I would love for them to not have to worry about foods they put in their mouth creating anxiety with having to always have an epi-pen nearby.

The Top 8 food allergens are Wheat, Soy, Peanuts, Milk, Tree Nuts, Eggs, Fish, and Shellfish. According to the Food Allergy Research and Resource Program at University of Nebraska, these foods account for 90% of all food allergies in the U.S.

So, how do these fit into the Paleo diet?

Paleo feels very strongly on all of these actually, just not the same way on each one.

The first 3 are looked down upon because of the issues with allergies that a lot of people have and the digestive/hormonal issues that people can get from eating these foods. Wheat, specifically gluten or another protein in wheat, can cause all sorts of digestive issues. Legumes are not allowed on strict paleo, but things like soaked lentils or black beans are gaining some traction. But soy has been shown to have estrogenic effects on hormones that can create havoc if not fermented first, or in the absence of a good amount of seafood. And peanuts are another legume that many people do not respond well to, specifically, 1.4% of the U.S. population have an allergy to this legume, and though the cause is not fully determined, many people think it is because of the mold content that is the major reason. Sounds yummy now, huh?

Then there is milk, which is a gray food that, if full fat and well tolerated, is allowed, but someone starting out on Paleo should avoid to try and make sure they don’t have issues from drinking it or using one of the other products that are milk based, such as ghee, yogurt, cheese, butter, etc.

Then there are tree nuts and eggs. These are fully allowed on the Paleo diet, unless you have an autoimmune disease that would handle these things improperly and cause flare-ups. See The Paleo Approach for more info. Eggs are extremely nutritious, but with a leaky gut or an off kilter gut microbiota, can cause problems for the rest of a person’s body. And tree nuts are less useful, but still a good fat for the majority of people, with certain nuts being very beneficial in the Omega-3/Omega-6 scale.

And then there are fish and shellfish, which are extremely beneficial and helpful, and again, if tolerated, can really increase the nutrition of your diet immensely.

So, why are these foods so diametrically opposed?

Some foods are just blatantly bad and not really beneficial for anyone, such as the first three. And I personally believe the reason the really beneficial ones are due to, as I mentioned above, gut problems. If the gut is extremely out of sorts, then it can’t handle the beneficial foods yet, and the more in line the gut is, then the extremely beneficial foods are helpful and can keep you moving toward optimal health. This is why we have kids who grow out of food allergies. My kids just got allergy testing done last week and we found out that my daughter, at this point, is only now allergic to peanuts, according to the blood test. She has a very low allergy to eggs that we are going to test in the coming weeks, but has grown out of her milk allergy completely at this point at almost 5 years old.

My son, who is 2 years younger, has a ways to go. He still has a milk and egg allergy, so we have to watch for things like butter or cheese, and eggs, which are everywhere. So, we are hoping that as we keep giving him good, nutritious foods, we will be able to help him grow out of his allergies as well. The freeing effects of being able to go anywhere and get something would be amazing and cut down on major anxiety for my wife and I.

But both children tested negative for wheat/gluten and tree nuts. So they can have those if need be, but we do notice a behavioral difference in my daughter when she has gluten, so we will continue to avoid it as it is not a nutritious food, and most of the time filler anyway. But tree nuts are something we will delve into further as we move forward. Both children have had almond flour/meal multiple times without issue, and next will be things like macadamia nuts and cashews as that would open up major options for good healthy fats for growing and developing bodies and minds.

So, why do I bring this up? Well, it is obviously on my mind with the kids getting tested, but also, there was a study done with lab rats at NYU Medical Center showing a correlation between antibiotics and food allergies.  Now, my children had food allergies before they ever had antibiotics, so how is this possible?

I have another theory. (I know, lots of theories today) My wife had quite a few doses of antibiotics growing up, which may have affected her gut flora and changed her microbiota. We know that infants get their first gut flora from their mother when passing through the birth canal, so if the mother’s gut flora is off from antibiotics, couldn’t it be theorized that a deficiency in the child’s gut flora at that point could cause the problem with food allergies that has to be grown out of or treated? With our medical system giving out antibiotics like candy for some decades now rather than waiting to see if a sickness is viral or bacterial, I think it’s very plausible that there could be a link here, along with the use of antibiotics in food production as well.

Again, I simply have certain facts at my hands that I can use to conjecture toward a hypotheses, and am not a doctor or scientist. But sometimes it simply takes someone who is invested in a solution, to find a solution.

Why you don’t lose weight and feel good counting calories

BricksIf you went up to someone and asked them about their house, what kinds of numbers do you think they’d throw at you? Maybe the cost? Or the square footage? Maybe the acreage of their land even? But you wouldn’t expect them to tell you the number of bricks.

That is calories(the bricks) in a nutshell. It is a single marker that is definitely a valid number that can make a difference in the look and stability of the body (house), but is not the only thing that people would want to know if they wanted to know about a house. So, why do we simply count calories when trying to lose or maintain weight?

I believe I learned from The Paleo Coach that this idea is over a hundred years old and has simply been passed down through general knowledge in the health world without being challenged.  Only in the past few years has the calorie myth been refuted heavily, with some diets still relying on it because their business model thrives on it.

There are lots of things that you should count before you count calories when looking for optimal health, if that is what you want to do:

Fat/Carb/Protein Ratio – 55%/25%/20%
Omega-6/Omega-3 Ratio – Ideal 1:7
Body Fat Percentage
Hours of Sleep per night
Micronutrients

These are just the ones that I try to keep an eye on from time to time, but there are a lot more than these that can make a huge difference in how healthy you are. So, if you want to count calories, then count calories, but look at these other items first, and see how you are doing, then look at calories. My calories typically vary anywhere from 1,700 all the way up to 4,500 depending on the day.

While it is true that a calorie restricted diet will allow you to lose weight because your body will be trying to find energy to get you through your day, it will also break down your muscle in the process, causing you to lose good muscle, instead of fat. It also builds unhealthy habits that can cause stressors on your body in the long run. Also, what are you going to do once you are done with your “diet”? Will you keep eating the way you have been eating or will you go back to your previous diet of junk?

The vast majority of people will go back to the junk food diet because they never learned how to eat, only how to restrict and eat different processed food than they were before. It is a much better use of your time and energy to learn to eat healthy following something like a Paleo template that you can maintain over the long haul so that even if you don’t stay completely paleo, you aren’t veering back to a Standard American Diet that will derail your progress.

So, the question is, what will you count? Will you keep counting calories and burning calories by running on the treadmill for hours? Or will you eat a nutrient dense diet that will satisfy you and teach you how you were supposed to eat, and be able to maintain it for a very long time?
The choice is yours.

What is the 80/20 rule in Paleo?

When you hear someone say they are eating paleo, they may quantify that with a percentage. It may be 75% or 80%, or maybe even 90%. Why do people say these types of things? Most of the time, it is a way out for a few reasons.

1) Because they aren’t really serious about eating a real food diet.
2) In case someone sees them eat something they know is not Paleo so they don’t sully the idea.
3) They are in transition to full on Paleo-mode.
4) So they can know, in their own minds, why they aren’t getting all of the results and can keep moving forward.

I know that eating full paleo is difficult. I totally get that in our highly processed, totally convenient, ultra palatable culture it is hard to find real food, which is extremely sad. But you shouldn’t feel you have to quantify how often you eat real food. The whole point of Paleo is eating the things that make you feel good, and avoiding things that don’t.

If you want to eat a piece of gluten filled cake, then eat it, but if you truly have been eating paleo for some time, keep in mind that you may feel the effects of the sugar and gluten. You may not notice the effects right away, but after a couple of days, you may notice the difference in the way you feel. You may see a blood sugar drop later that day, and stomach issues over the next 48-72 hours as your body tries to get rid of something your body doesn’t like.  So, hopefully what you have done is put together a solid whole 30 to start the process and introduced questionable foods slowly to see how your body reacts so that you know what foods you might want to have along the way as treats that might not normally be on the menu.

It seems all of the big names in the Paleo world totally endorse the idea of an 80/20 rule because the Paleo “diet” is not a diet in the modern sense, but in more the biological diet of what you eat day to day as a standard. It is meant to be your lifestyle, not something to drop pounds, then go back to eating junk at every meal. It is meant to change your life and the way you look at food. Unfortunately when you go out to eat with friends, there may not be any good Paleo choices at the restaurant you go to at which point you have to decide what you want to do. Do you want to deviate from the plan and eat some standard fare; skip the meal completely and just visit with your friends; or eat something that is simply less than ideal that is just not full paleo? It’s your choice, and you don’t need to be restricted by what is and isn’t Paleo, but instead should enjoy life and food, with the knowledge of how your body reacts to different foods.

Robb Wolf has said on multiple occasions that he and his family eat corn chips and corn tortillas all of the time when they go out for Mexican food because it just isn’t an issue for them, and Mark Sisson talks about enjoying life while Chris Kresser has said that 80% of the time is enough to make your way to good health. Your percentage will likely be higher as you keep moving forward because you will learn what you want to have that is outside of the norm, and most of the time, it just won’t be worth it. At work last week, a lady from work made monkey bread. Not monkey bread in the Paleo sense, but instead the real deal using the cheapy canned biscuits. Since this was one of my favorite things, I had a bite. And when I say a bite, I do mean a bite. One thing I have learned since moving to a Paleo diet is that I do have self-control when it comes to food, and I can choose my portion sizes. Just because someone cuts a huge portion, doesn’t mean I have to eat it. And many times, with sweets, you can simply get a taste or two and be just as satisfied since it isn’t meant to fill you up, but simply stimulate your taste buds.

I guess the question isn’t what percentage of Paleo are you, but instead how far down the path to real food are you?  Don’t miss out on life just because you eat differently than your friends, while at the same time keep in mind how your body reacts to inflammatory foods, and you can choose how you want to deviate. When you see reviews and recipes on here that are not Paleo, those are part of my 20% that I know may cause a blood sugar spike, but won’t derail my progress and leave me in the bathroom for two days.

So, what is your biggest hardship when looking at an 80/20 rule? Is it getting back to eating real food once you have deviated? Or maybe it’s finding things that you want to deviate with that aren’t going to do harm to you? Whatever it is, enjoy life, and enjoy food, just enjoy it more responsibly than you had in  your former life.

What can I eat on Paleo?

 

From What can I eat on Paleo?stoplight

There are many schools of thought on this, but I am going to put everything into 3 areas.

This is not all encompassing, but can give you a starting point, and I put links to reference articles for each to hopefully help explain why things are on certain lists. Here goes…

Green Light

Full Speed Ahead

Yellow Light

Red Light

Why choose Kerrygold on Paleo?

Kerrygold Butter

I was listening to a podcast yesterday and they mentioned Kerrygold butter. One person said that he ate Kerrygold, and the other asked why it was better than other organic butters. And I believe his response was “I don’t think it matters”.

So, let me explain why Kerrygold is truly better than most other organic butters for a single reason.

Grassfed vs. Grainfed

Cows have four stomachs. How odd is that? But there is a reason for this. Cows are big, kind of slow animals so they don’t eat meat since they can’t couldn’t catch it, they eat veggies, specifically grass and weeds and things that are easy to get most anywhere. Then, since they are ruminant animals, the food they eat, the grass, makes its way through each of the stomachs, digesting more each time as this is what their bodies have adapted to ingest over the long period of time that cows have been on the earth.

Now, over the past 100 years or less, we have been feeding them grain because it is a cheap veggie option that we can cultivate and put into feedlots easily to cause bigger cows that are better producers in a more industrial setting. But, as with our diets, just because this change creates results that we are happy with, it doesn’t mean it creates the best output in terms of the cow’s health and the quality of the product they produce.

Mark Sisson has a fantastic article about butter that covers everything, but I will give you the highlights.

  • Grassfed cows create more Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA), than their grain fed counterparts, which is good for things like heart health and reducing belly fat.
  • Grassfed milk and butter have more overall vitamins and minerals than their grain fed brethren.
  • The Fatty acids, and Omega-6 to Omega-3 ratio are so much better than the grain fed option.
  • And it tastes better. The sweetness that grassfed butter creates is so much better than any of the alternatives. That’s why I use it as my topping when I have pancakes.

So, the overall theme is that it’s a better option. As Mark Sisson says in his article, even grainfed butter is a better option than fake fats like margarine or vegetable oil, but Grassfed butter is the gold standard. I buy my Kerrygold from Costco, but I have heard of some really good deals on it at Trader Joe’s as well, and you can always order it online. So, while the price may be a little bit higher than the cheapy butter at the grocery store, it is something we find is worth it in the long-run.

The Case for Minimal Shoes

vibramWhen you see someone in the shoes to the left, the words that go through your head are probably something like “Weirdo”, “Hippy”, “Hipster”, or something similar.
I thought that too, but as it turns out, there are actually multiple reasons for this choice of footwear. That type of footwear has two names it is typically called, Minimalist or Barefoot.
Now, while we can obviously see that it is not a bare foot, it is pretty close.
So minimalist may be a closer descriptor of the type of shoe.

Let me give you some background. A couple of years ago, I read the book 4 hour body by Tim Ferris (Fantastic Book!), and there was a section on this type of shoe, and he referenced a couple of brands like Vibram Five Fingers and VivoBarefoot. I read through it and while I found it interesting, I didn’t really give it too much thought as there were all sorts of nuggets of information in that book that I wanted to cover instead and try to implement.

A couple of years ago, my wife had asked me what I wanted for my birthday and I didn’t really have an answer. The truth is, we are very blessed and don’t “want” for a lot of things, but still want a lot of things. Typically my vice has a power cord or a battery and can do something that really wows people and can be found on Gizmodo at some point. But there wasn’t really anything out there that I wanted that fit that criteria. So I started thinking about other things I was passionate about and one of those things was health. So I decided to take Tim’s advice and get two things for my birthday.

  • A Kettlebell
  • A pair of minimalist (barefoot) shoes

The illustration that really stuck out to me is the one below.

The Heel

badpostureThis illustration is exactly what is wrong with the shoes that most people wear right now. They aren’t actually made for normal people to walk around on all day. Yes they are cushioned and soft and protect your feet from harm, but are they really made for our bodies or do our bodies have to conform to the idea of shoes in order make the shoes comfortable? It’s amazing that no one has asked this really in the 1000 years that we have been wearing shoes like we have today.

As you can probably imagine, shoes are not a new idea. they all used to be flat soled, fairly thin, and were simply meant to protect the foot from both the elements, and foreign objects on the ground. But shoes that have heels can be traced all the way back to the 9th century, and were meant to help with keeping feet in the stirrups of horses. Makes sense doesn’t it?

Unfortunately that one specific function turned into fashion and became commonplace, and now all of our shoes either have the classic heel or the heel is simply higher than the toe area of the shoe, like in athletic shoes. The flat shoe is almost an oddity when you go to a shoe store and try to find one, unless you want to wear flip flops.

Not only did this fashion trend cause issues for us in terms of our joints, but it actually made us less stable than we were previously by putting too much cushion under our feet and forcing our toes to fit into a specific amount of space. Tom’s underground has a fantastic article focusing on the arch of the foot and why the arches in shoes actually make us less stable and are worse for our feet than flat soles.

 

barefootvsThe Toes

The picture on the left shows the feet of those who haven’t been constrained by shoes for 20, 40, 60 or more years versus those who have. Do you see the difference? I’m sure you can because the feet at the top aren’t “normal”. They are caveman feet, as my wife calls them. The major difference that you see right off the bat is the big toe. It is actually in line with the rest of the foot instead of being pushed to the center by conforming to the shoe’s shape.

The people without the curved toe will have better balance, and will be a lot less likely to have toe issues because their toes can grow naturally without being constrained by the shoes they have to wear.

So, with these two illustrations in mind, I started looking for shoes. I had a few criteria. The primary one was that my shoes couldn’t look anything like the picture above. I work in a typical workplace setting and I am pretty sure that if I showed up wearing something like that, it would sound some alarms throughout the building immediately. So I needed to find something that looked pretty normal. As I began looking, I found that this was harder than I thought. A lot of the designers of these shoes like to stand out and want you to notice that their shoe is different than the typical shoe. But that isn’t what I wanted. I read forum after forum about different brands and different things you needed to look for when you were doing this, and I found more information than I had ever imagined I would, but had a hard time finding normal shoes that weren’t ridiculously high.

The Criteria

So, like I mentioned above, I had pretty minimal criteria starting out, but as it turned out, after reading the forums, I had more specific criteria in regards to the way it was made and less about the design.

  • No height difference between the front and back of the foot, called “zero drop”. This is better for your back as having a tilt in your shoes is bad for your back and the joints in your legs and hips. Some of the shoes have just a few millimeter drop, which is a lot better than shoes we typically wear, but still not perfect. Ideal shoes would have the zero drop.
  • Something that has a large “toe box”. This is the term used for your toe area so that they can go where they want to go instead of being stuck pushed together. It’s better for balance and helps to keep you free of a lot of toe problems because your toe is getting pushed inward in all of your shoes right now.
  • A thin sole. This gives you more of the feeling of being barefoot so that you can feel what is under your feet. This is better for balance, as well as gives a form of reflexology to the bottom of your foot that is better for your whole body. So you get a mini massage when you walk over something that has contours to it instead of just feeling your shoe tilt and turn underneath you. People also talk about being “more connected to the earth” and things like that, which I don’t necessarily get, but I guess that’s a bonus.

The Find

 

roosI looked at a lot of shoes, and finally came out with the shoes on the right.  You can see them next to a pair of Vibram FiveFingers in that picture from Birthday Shoes. They actually look a lot like the clogs that I wear on a regular basis to work, primarily because they don’t have a back, so I can slip them off and on easily since I don’t like wearing shoes.

The shoes I decided on are actually similar to a moccasin where it doesn’t have a thick sole, and essentially just tighten around your ankle by way of elastic. They are called the Suede Roo’s, made by Soft Star Shoes. They have two different models of this shoe. One is a typical suede moccasin, and the other is a suede moccasin with a leather sole that is meant more for hard surfaces. I thought about how much I would probably wear them if I liked them and opted for the leather sole. It cost about $20 more, but I figured that if I wore them in public, I would appreciate not having to worry about the sole getting dirty or wearing out as quickly.

A couple of other pairs I have added since are some Instinct 1.5 shoes and Adam shoes from Altra, as well as a pair of Sanuk Men’s Hemp Slip-On shoes that are not minimalist, but are zero drop and meet the majority of my criteria.

The Verdict

Let me just say that I absolutely love these shoes. It isn’t necessarily the shoes that I love, though I do really like these, but instead the change for my feet. I have been wearing these shoes for about two weeks now and can’t imagine going back to the typical shoe.

  • My feet feel better at the end of the day, instead of being stuffed into a tight shoe. I actually forget I have shoes on once I am home because it just feels natural. Almost like having house shoes on all day.
  • Oddly enough, my knees feel better, which I did not expect, because my feet aren’t being pushed forward, which isn’t hurting my knees as badly as regular shoes did. I still have bad knees, but just walking around the office doesn’t hurt them like regular shoes did. I just realized a few days ago that my knees hadn’t hurt in some time and the only change is my footwear.

And these are just the immediate changes I’ve noticed. I am sure I will notice more, and hope that my toes spread, at least a little, so that I can see if it does make a difference in the amount of stability I have compared to the way I usually am.

The Consequences

A couple of things I have noticed regarding these shoes is that once you go barefoot/minimal, it is hard going back. I have never been one to pay attention to shoes, but now that I wear these, I can’t help but think about my shoes, and what other people wear. Not only that, it makes me want more than just my one pair. I will have to purchase some that are more durable for the outdoors and for things like sports. I can’t imagine playing basketball in these, not because they wouldn’t be comfortable, but because they just aren’t made for it.

Another thing I have noticed is that when I walk a lot, my heel actually hurts. I looked into this and it is because I am walking wrong. I think a lot of people do it and don’t realize it. When we walk in shoes, we typically take very long strides that force us to put our heel on the ground before our toes touch the ground. This is actually incorrect. When we are barefoot, we don’t do that, so why should we do it when we wear shoes? I find that I do it most often when I am in a hurry. The way I should actually be walking is by taking less steps that are a little more calculated than striking my heel on the ground every step. I should either be putting the ball of my toe down or the outer edge of my foot to the ground before my heel touches. It should be more fluid and graceful than my typical caveman walk where I stomp around on my heels all the time. I think this may be part of the reason my knees don’t hurt like they did. I am forced to walk differently while barefoot compared to in shoes, so if I put my toe down first, then my knees don’t have a chance to lock back, hurting my knee further.  I still have a lot of work to do to make it comfortable and normal, but I am making progress and it feels more normal everyday.

The Links

I have read a lot of good articles and want to give you the same articles I have found to look over. There is a lot of research and hard facts in these articles, as well as a lot of personal testimony. I recommend at least scanning through them to get some info.

The Case for Minimalist Footwear

10 Reasons to go Barefoot Running

How to Walk Barefoot 

Why Minimal?

The Children

I actually found quite a few links talking about how it was much better for kids to be barefoot and how it would help them later. I couldn’t find a lot of those articles when researching for this post, but I did find some of them, and there is information in the list of links above also. Some of the things I found most amazing were items like finding that our feet aren’t fully formed until later in our adolescent years. They are actually made of cartilage and turn to the 12 bones in our foot later on. So kids have more of a chance to have less foot problems if we start them early. Plus, kids are more clumsy because they can’t feel what is under their feet because of the thickness of the soles of shoes. This causes them to fall or stumble more often than normal, whereas adults have gotten used to it and know how to recover a bit better, so we don’t notice it as much.

Get Your Kids Into Minimalist Shoes to Ensure Natural Foot Development

When it Comes to Kids, Minimal can be Affordable

Healthy, Active, Barefoot Kids

Summer Tips for Barefoot Kids