July 18, 2012
paleo: thirty days later
As of today, I have been Paleo for a month. A whole thirty days.
Thirty days is significant to me because, according to paleo experts, thirty days is the point where your body has fully adjusted to eating paleo and all of the bad stuff is most likely flushed out of your body.
Looking back, the past thirty days feel more like a year than a month. In both good ways and bad.
I started eating paleo for a few different reasons: to get myself off of processed sugar, to eat a lot better/get preservatives out of my body and to lose some weight.
Before paleo, I could pack away a whole package of oreos in one sitting without thinking anything about it. I adored cheez-its, cake, sugary cereals, any candy at all - you name it.
After a while, I started to noticing a lot of tension in my body - my stomach always hurt, I had horrendous lower back problems and I was always, always, always tired no matter how much I slept.
[paleo lettuce wraps]
My best friend is allergic to soy. A few years ago, she completely cut all soy out of her diet. She not only lost weight but you could tell she was just a happier person. When this summer started, I knew I needed to change my diet. Multiple servings of ice cream were just not appropriate any more. On her suggestion, I looked into becoming soy-free. Quickly, I realized that that was not for me. However, while researching her diet, I kept coming across the paleo diet. I heard about it from people like Megan and Whitney, but I had never put too much stock into it. After a lot more research and a few books, I realized how amazing this lifestyle really was.
I'm not going to lie to you. The first week was hard. I really had a dependency to processed sugar and I wanted chocolate, Skittles, ice cream and just about every other piece of candy/sweets in the world almost every second of the day. I abated it by eating a lot of fruit in that first week which I would highly recommend if you have the same problem. The paleo diet does not encourage a lot of fruit-eating but hey, if you're on the strugglebus then a piece of fruit is much healthier than a Snickers bar.
Once those cravings were through, I went through some sort of low-carb fog/haze. All I wanted was a piece of bread and when I wasn't giving my body the amount of processed carbs it was used to, it almost hurt to move. I couldn't pick up a tray of food at work without having to take a deep breath. It took a few days of relaxing a bit more than usual and taking it slow at work and I got through it - but I'm pretty sure this is why I am so terrified of eating dairy or carbs right now - I don't want to have to go through that fog again.
Because of how hard I had to fight these cravings, I've been very strict on myself about my diet over the past month. I have been terrified to eat anything that isn't paleo in fears of having to go through withdrawals like that again. I have not intentionally cheated even once. Sure, I've made a few mistakes but I was hard on myself. I knew that even eating one piece of cake (I turned down a Georgetown Cupcake for my Mom's birthday, for goodness sake!) or a piece of bread/pasta (Remember: I work at Olive Garden - motherland o' carbs!) would mean that I would have screwed up all of my hard work.
The only thing that I am frustrated with in terms of my diet is that I don't have the means to eat organic and/or grass-fed all the time. I do it when I can, but I wish I could do it more. In my mind, eating meat that isn't grass-fed instead of eating bread or something else is better than not - but I know that I am not 100% paleo because of that and it frustrates me.
Food does not run my life anymore. Before paleo, I was someone who planned my life around my next meal and would get angry when I didn't eat. I would snack constantly. Food was my comfort.
Now, I eat when I'm hungry and stop when I'm full. If I don't eat, that's fine - I wait until I can.
The biggest thing I've realized:
It's just food.
NOT eating a piece of cake isn't going to kill you. If you're hungry and therefore tempted to cheat on the diet, eat as much paleo food as you want for as long as you want. But cheating? Cheating will stick with you longer than good eating will. A piece of cake is not worth giving up all of the other days you've eaten healthy.
Here are some of my candid thoughts on paleo
What has changed about me since I have begun eating paleo:
+ I have dropped almost 15 pounds without lifting a finger (unless you count me going to work...which I don't!)
+I dream every single night without fail. It's a silly thing to notice, but I enjoy it. I rarely dreamed before eating paleo.
+I also sleep a lot better - even if I don't get a lot of sleep, I never feel tired or fatigued during the day.
+I have energy throughout the day. I can work a double and literally open and close the restaurant and not have a problem with energy even once during the day.
+I never, ever crave sugar or carbs. Ever. The biggest craving I have had over the past month was for watermelon. And that was usually because I was just dehydrated.
+After I went paleo, I noticed that I used to get this horrible pain in my lower back after eating in addition to the lower back pain I was having anyways. Other than natural tension that creeps in, I do not ever get tension in my back anymore.
What I love about paleo:
+I never feel heavy after a meal. Even if I am stuffed (which rarely happens! It was a feeling I very much enjoyed before paleo but I would hate to feel it again now)
+I crave foods like fruit and veggies instead of oreos and chips these days
+You can, if you so choose, cheat a little bit. If you really do want those oreos, have some. Maybe one or two. However, if you've done paleo right, you'll probably feel gross afterwards (and negative reinforcement is sometimes a great way to make a lifestyle change!)
+I know you know this, but I have to say it anyways: You eat a lot of meat. And I loooveee eating meat. Especially bacon. Any lifestyle where you lose weight and get healthier while eating bacon is the best lifestyle for me.
+You can still drink darker red wines, tequila and eat dark chocolate. All without feeling guilty or screwing up. Cheating and cravings without the guilt are practically built into this lifestyle!
+There are some delicious recipes out there that I would never have found otherwise! (For example, my paleo spaghetti and sauce)
+I have gotten very good at cooking! :)
What I hate about paleo:
+It's very hard to eat out or on the go. While I have eaten at restaurants a few times, I always feel guilty or wary - there is most likely cross-contamination and I'm so nervous about cheating. I do my best, but I'm sure a few mistakes have slipped in while eating at a restaurant.
+You have to cook. All the time. Sometimes, I wish dinner was as easy as microwaving dinner instead of the hour it takes to cook your veggies & dinner.
+It's hard to eat paleo. Like I said - eating grass-fed and organic is expensive and may not be wholly available. Do your best on your budget and with your resources - eating non-grassfed meat is better than nothing!
Please let me know if you have any questions! I'd love to help explain paleo to you or tell you more about my experiences.
If you're curious about being paleo, try it out for thirty days - I promise you'll love it!