The last time I wrote about my Paleo experience, I had just nearly completed seven months of eating like a cave-woman and had lost 67 pounds. That was five weeks ago. Since then, I have lost an additional eleven pounds and am feeling fantastic about it. 78 pounds! That’s like chopping off an entire, healthy-sized fifth grader from my body. I still can’t believe it. It hasn’t been easy, but that is to be expected in any worthwhile endeavor.
The weight is coming off more slowly now than in the beginning of my adventure as a cave woman, but I know the weight is not coming back any time soon. I’m not in a rush to lose the weight, either, because my main goal has nothing to do with appeasing the scale. The goal is to be healthy. And, well, that’s something I have to work on for the rest of my life.
It hasn’t all been rainbows and butterflies. There are always many challenges with such drastic change. For me, the two most humongous challenges are laziness and temptation.
The laziness creeps in when I just don’t feel like cooking. You know, sometimes you just want to go out for a bite. Even better— sometimes you just want to curl up at home and have some delivery guy bring you some food. Well, there isn’t really a Paleo option for this. If going out to eat is hard, getting take-out or delivery is impossible. When the laziness tries to creep in, I just have to remind myself how well I’m doing and there is no reason to stop. My food is always delicious, so I have to just get up and go make it!
There is a way to overcome the difficulties in cooking fresh every single night: prepare ahead of time. I create a “menu” for the week, only purchase the necessary ingredients, and stick to it. Also, I like to tackle any prep work that could be done ahead of time (like sauce, dressing, chopping), so that the actual cooking is fast and simple. Another easy way to stick to the plan is to cook ahead of time and reheat later. I like this one. It’s almost as easy as take-out. On a Saturday or Sunday I can make a soup, stew, or chili to reheat at some point during the week. Sometimes it even tastes better a day or two later.
Temptation is even trickier than laziness because it’s everywhere. The best way to resist temptation is to avoid it, and because temptation is all around it becomes very difficult to steer clear of it. It’s a vicious cycle….
When I go grocery shopping, the bread/pastry aisle is my worst enemy. It smells glorious. I just won’t go down that aisle. For me, the best way to navigate the grocery store is to stay on the outer perimeters. The aisles are all trouble— every last one of them. If you want to stay whole, natural, gluten free, and want to know exactly what you are putting into your body, staying on the outer perimeter of the grocery store can help you do that. In fact, the bulk of my groceries are found in the fresh produce and meat sections of the store. Occasionally I may have to make a trip down the aisles for coconut milk or organic honey, but I try to avoid the aisles as much as possible.
At home, temptation can be downright cruel. On Sundays, my grandma cooks amazing things that I have loved all my life; yummy soups and stews, roasts, and casseroles, etc. In order to avoid this type of temptation, I have to lie to myself. I tell myself that I don’t want to eat whatever delicious creation my grandmother made with love. I tell myself that it wouldn’t taste better than anything I make for myself. But, in all honesty, I also tell myself I would probably get very sick if I did eat things I’m not supposed to eat. I must be quite convincing, because it works. In these past eight months, I haven’t slipped up once (well, maybe that one Jaeger Bomb… but I don’t count that).
The other most annoying challenge is cost. Eating organic/gluten-free/whole/natural is pretty pricey. I do my best by selecting items on sale or in season. That can help a little. Another way is to pick and choose which ingredients should be organic and which ingredients I can be a little more lenient with. This is a slippery slope, though. I always check labels to make sure that my less Paleo ingredients are still up to a healthful and all-natural standard.
If someone would have told me this past February that in eight months time I would be 78 pounds lighter and my health was back on the road to recovery, I would not have believed a word of it. I was a different person then. Swollen, achy, miserable, and completely uncomfortable with my appearance; I had nearly given up. I didn’t know that doctor’s visit in February would be of any significance. I was so used to being let down by health care professionals and so used to getting all the wrong information. A possible food allergy wasn’t that surprising. I’ve been allergic to nearly everything my whole life. But, the Paleo Diet? Really? It seemed silly. Upon hearing of the Paleo Diet, I couldn’t help but think of our dear “Friend,” Ross Geller the Paleontologist, and his love of dinosaurs.
I would never have believed I could display such conviction. I suppose desperate times call for desperate measures…. and I was desperate. I wanted answers and I needed change. The weight was killing my spirit, but the health problems were killing my body. So, I did it! I accepted the challenge. And thank goodness for that!
My body’s intolerance of gluten and my ignorance of it has been the real enemy or challenge. I had been consuming it for years and years, making my immune system practically nonexistent. After eight months of working towards better health and avoiding all gluten, I can feel the differences. I’m not nearly as whiny. I used to complain constantly about swelling, pain, headaches, and tummy aches. Those are now symptoms of the past. My allergies have lessened, but have not completely disappeared. My asthma is still present, but overall I feel that my breathing is clearer than before. And while it may be deemed as “too much information” for some, I feel it worth mentioning (and very significant to my future plans in life) that my menstrual cycle has regained some normalcy. Now that I’m really thinking on that subject, it has never been normal…. so that must be a good sign. It seems like the costochondritis episodes are in the past, as well. I have not had a flair-up since going Paleo. Could it be the gluten? Most likely. I still have some doctors to visit and work to do on improving the outlook of my hypothyroidism and PCOS, but I’m definitely moving in the right direction.
I am not going to lie, though. While I have been working on my health, I couldn’t be happier about the weight loss. Losing 78 pounds is a huge plus. Assuming dress sizes are measured in increments of twos, (2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, and so on) I’ve lost 3 ½ dress sizes. I haven’t calculated inches, but if I had, I’m sure the numbers would be staggering. My pants from months ago either fall right off, hang sloppily well beyond where they’re supposed to sit, or are just all around too baggy to wear in public view. It’s nice to have that visual confirmation. I’m starting to see “me” in the mirror again.
It feels great to know that with a little bit of information, a tiny nudge in the right direction, and a whole lot of conviction I can change my life.