I don’t know about you but I’m getting quite sick of my friends and family’s lack of understanding of why I’m eating the way I do. I get comments like: “You still on this caveman diet?” or “Haven’t you heard that the inventor of Atkins died of a heart attack?”
What? Sorry? Have you heard a word I said last Sunday at the barbecue? Yeah, alright, I tend to go on a bit on the subject but still, how come they just don’t get it?
You can lead the horse to water but you can’t make it drink
I have to think of this old proverb whenever I talk to people about Paleo, about the Primal lifestyle, about trying to eat the way we humans were designed to eat.
Yes, I’m enthusiastic about the way I approach my fitness and health but I have started to understand that I have to keep it to myself unless people ask me directly for more information.
And when friends do start to ask, I find it hard to explain the concept in a way that won’t leave them bored. There are plenty of books on Paleo that go into great detail, but wouldn’t it be great to have a small book that just outlines the very basics and gives readers a straight-forward approach to improving their health?
That is the main reason why I’ve decided to start a series about my take on Paleo. Eventually this will be turned into an e-book, but for now I’m really looking forward to posting my own paleo approach in several parts!
This is how I interpret Paleo and Primal for myself
Warning to all hard-core Paleoistas:
I don’t like black or white, I prefer grey shades. Simple as that. If you can handle dairy, have dairy. If you have the occasional plate of pasta and it doesn’t make you feel terrible, enjoy it but understand that there still might be damage done to your insides.
My approach to Paleo and Primal is more tolerant than dogmatic
So this is my story.
I gained weight after having two lovely kids within two years of each other. Where before, weight would drop off if I minded my calories for a few days, this time I just couldn’t budge the fat. Breastfeeding my kids made me ravenous, despite what the nurses told me. I gained weight after delivering, not during the pregnancies. Go figure.
I ended up doing every diet known to man:
- Slimming World
- South Beach
- Raw Food Vegan
- and many more
I lost weight initially but it never stayed off - and it got harder and harder as time went by. Depression started to set in and I just felt more and more tired as well as old and fat.
Enter the chronic illnesses
Then I came across a great book “Stop the Thyroid Madness” and suddenly some things became clearer. My morning temperature was so low that I was categorised as hypothermic by a nurse. It took me another few years after my self-diagnosis to be “officially diagnosed” as having developed Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease that slowly destroys the thyroid.
Pretty soon I was also diagnosed as having Metabolic Syndrome which includes Diabetes 2, High Blood Pressure, High Cholesterol, and Obesity. Yay, 3 out of 4 for me!
Don’t believe what’s on the internet
Man, did I get sick of hearing this from doctors when I asked them about the various conditions I was pretty sure I suffered from. Well, one thing I’m good at is research. Every single one of my suspicions were borne out eventually.
So when all doctors could offer me was: eat less and exercise more!, I got angry. I had done NOTHING BUT EAT LESS AND EXERCISE MORE! Literally 1300 calories a day plus 30 min jogging 5 times a week! And nothing had worked!
So I got back on the internet and started researching once again. Only this time, not how to lose weight, but how to deal with chronic disease without using drugs. One of the first sites I came across was Dr. Mercola’s site www.mercola.com. The second site was Mark Sisson’s www.marksdailyapple.com.
The Primal Blueprint saved my life
I’m not exaggerating. I was at the end of my tether. Only here was a site that not only offered a huge amount of articles (Mark blogs daily) but articles that were well written with links to the original research. What a discovery!
I was so impressed, I went ahead and did a strict 30 days Primal Blueprint challenge. After the first week of feeling fairly weak and miserable, I saw some amazing results:
- my blood sugar stabilised
- my weight started to drop
- joint aches disappeared
- depression lifted
I really thought that stiff and achy joints were part of growing older. I couldn’t believe when they stopped hurting.
It’s not a linear journey
It really really isn’t. I can’t tell you how often I fell off the wagon. But that’s okay too and I tell you why:
Dietary changes can be tough. We’ve established habits since childhood and we associate comfort and company with food. But I remembered how much better I felt when I ate the way my body was designed for.
So I’d try again and again and the more often I tried, the easier it got. I already had the right foods in the house from last time and I had recipes that I could fall back on.
I’m still not perfect. I still need to lose weight. But when I look at where I’ve come from and where I am now, I’m a different woman. I KNOW what to do and I do it more often than not.
Exit chronic cardio, enter high intensity interval training (HIIT)
I started Crossfit two years ago. That’s amazing to me. When I started, I literally could not do a full sit-up. Now I can do 100 while throwing a 6 lbs medicine ball over my head while sitting up. I can do 100 squats. I can do 50 burpees. 4 years ago, I couldn’t jump off a bank a foot high.
My body gives me better and clearer feedback the longer I stick with it. And eating cleanly is what makes me feel good.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll continue with articles, covering the basics of Paleo, what to eat, how to exercise more effectively and how to incorporate Paleo and Primal into your daily life.