When I was thinking about starting the Paleo diet, I was a little concerned that I wouldn’t be able to stick it out for the 30 days. What is the Paleo diet? Basically, you eat nuts, seeds, lean meats, vegetables, and some fruit. You do not eat grains, legumes, gluten, and dairy. Dr. Cordain, Robb Wolf, and others posit that our (humans) biology hasn’t evolved or changed much in the past 10,000 years. What this means is that our bodies are not equipped to eat grains and legumes because we can’t digest them properly. In fact, the grains cause damage to our internal organs (stomach, intestines) as they move through our system undigested. This leads to inflammation and in return some of the more common diseases in society today.
I’m a carbohydrate addict. Not just carbs…but highly processed carbs like cakes, cookies, pancakes, breads, and other yummy goodness. So, in taking the 30 day challenge (eating paleo 30 days, no exceptions) I was going to have to stop eating all of those cold turkey. April 2009, I stopped drinking diet sodas (well, any sodas at all) and that was tough. I expected the first couple of weeks to be quite hard on me in cutting out the grains. However, it wasn’t too bad. Yes, I craved chocolate and sweets, but I was able to pass them up. The only time I had a point where I thought I’d give in and eat the forbidden fruit was at the dinner after my Grandfather’s funeral. First, the meal was composed of pastas and salads made with dairy products. The only thing I could eat was the ham, strawberries, and blackberries. Oh, there were a couple of carrot sticks as well. So, I ate what I could of those. Then they brought out the desserts. There was chocolate cake, carrot cake, chocolate chip cookies, M&M cookies, peach cobbler, apple pie, and some other things. I stood at the table and took in all of the smells.
“One bite won’t hurt” went through my head followed by “if you just eat one cookie it won’t hurt anything too bad. Just one cookie and that’s it.” This was dangerous. I was talking myself into eating stuff I knew I shouldn’t have been eating. I was about 20 days into my diet at this point and hadn’t had any sweet cravings for a while. I took one more sniff of all of that sugary sin and made myself walk away to a different building. If I stayed any longer at that table, I was going to break down. I wasn’t even hungry. I didn’t want to eat them because I was still hungry…I would have just been eating to eat them. That was one of my biggest personal victories.
I noticed my body shape changing some about 2-3 weeks in. My lumpy thighs weren’t so lumpy anymore and the pod of fat on the side of my hips wasn’t as big when I ran my hand over it. During week 4 I was able to fit into a size 16 pants! I didn’t weigh myself at all during the 30 days. I had made an agreement with myself a while back that I was only going to weigh myself once a month. Let me tell you, it was hard not to dig the scale out and weigh early when I knew I had to have been losing weight. At the 30 day mark I stepped on the scale and found I had lost 12.6 lbs..outstanding! I had also lost about 6 inches.
Many people claim that the Paleo diet gives them so much more energy, they can think clearer, they feel younger, etc. What can I say? I felt my attitude shift from being mostly negative to mostly positive. My anxiety was little to non-existent and while I didn’t feel a great influx of energy, I wasn’t falling asleep at my desk anymore at 2 in the afternoon. The results have been great, in my opinion, and I will continue to eat this way. That being said though, I will allow myself some of the things I enjoy from time to time. I’m not giving up cake for the rest of my life! Yesterday I had one of those small personal sized boxes of Lucky Charms for a snack (since I was out of my 30 day challenge) and I wasn’t too hip on them. They weren’t good. Plus, I got realllly tired about an hour later. Is that related? I don’t know but I would think so.
What’s next? Just keep on keeping on. I stopped consuming artificial sweeteners last Monday (1/24/11). It hasn’t been as hard as I thought it would be not to have sweet-n-low or splenda in my iced tea. I do miss it, but I’m doing just fine! We’ll see how the next 30 days go without the artificial sweeteners.