I did it! I made it to Day 30!!
If you know me at all (or have even been following my blog for a while), you'll know how momentous today is. When have I ever stuck with a diet for a full 30 days, seriously? And I feel no need to stop. There's no "FINALLY I'M DONE" because I don't feel done. I feel like I could do this some more.
Starting weight: 203.5
Today's weight: 190.9
Pounds lost: 12.6
And even more telling than the numbers is the way I look and feel. I've been posting weight loss updates because it's the only tangible thing (well, I suppose I could've done measurements), but the larger benefits are not about weight loss. I didn't even start this diet because of weight loss (though, I knew it was a bonus). I started it because I wanted to stop feeling so sluggish and lethargic all the time. I wanted to eat cleaner, healthier, and better for my body.
And so far, it's worked. (Ironic, isn't it, that I'm typing about how great I feel while I'm laid up on my living room couch with a bad case of cramps. Even Paleo can't vanquish my PMS. But it's not as bad as it used to be.) I don't have midday crash anymore. In fact, I'm only tired when I don't sleep enough. Not only am I cooking more healthfully, but I'm just a better cook, period - the food I make tastes better, thanks to the myriad of Paleo recipes I can find online.
But the weight loss is a big deal for me too. This is the least I've weighed in two years, I think. Weight Watchers has worked in the past, but for me personally, it wasn't sustainable. There were too many loopholes. I was still eating bad food - I was just tracking it. There were recommendations for what kind of food to eat, but it still left room for me to eat whatever I wanted - and I thought that was a good thing at the time, but after having done Paleo, I've realized that I shouldn't eat what I want - I should be wanting to eat healthy, and I needed to learn how to do so.
So where do I go from here? Many Paleo people adopt an 80% approach, where they allow themselves non-Paleo foods every once in a while, but I'm not sure I'll do that. Partly because I'm worried about relinquishing control, but also because I'm worried about how my body will feel about it. The few times I've gone out to eat, I've chosen meals that were as Paleo as possible (yes, I did the annoying thing of making a bunch of substitutions and asking for no butter and all that), but my mouth would get irritated or my stomach would hurt afterwards anyway. As much as I crave blue cheese and donuts, I'm not sure it's worth it to deal with the aftermath. I think that I wouldn't be opposed to using honey or raw cocoa in my baking, but I'm not going to scarf down chocolate candy or put sugar in my coffee. I think I eat enough sugar already between all the fruit and Larabars.
So, for those of you thinking about Paleo or are starting it, here are my tips for helping to get through the first 30 days:
- Do your research and prepare yourself mentally. Paleo is kind of hard to just launch into - I read blogs and catalogued recipes and stuff for a WEEK, then had a "last hurrah" weekend before I finally started. I needed to be in the right frame of mind. Paleo is not something you can do reluctantly, because then it will suck a lot, and you won't stick with it. Motivation and knowledge will be important here. You have to WANT to do this, or else, you won't be able to. Seriously.
- Plan your meals... but also learn how to cook on the fly. It doesn't have to be meticulous, down-to-the-minute planning, but at least have a list when you go grocery shopping, and have some stand-by, go-to meal ideas for when you have no idea what you want to make, and just feel like throwing stuff together that you find in your fridge. Having adequate ingredients, and a good variety to boot, means that you'll be more likely to stick to Paleo meals rather than being like, "I can't find anything to eat or I don't feel like a huge elaborate meal, so I'm going to In n Out." Have some good basic items on hand (spices, chicken stock), freeze some meat, etc. Also, having good cooking equipment is a major help too - I ended up buying a slow cooker and a food processor, and I'm VERY glad I did. :)
- Read the ingredients label. Get to know the names of some of the other common forms of sugar and preservatives. Not all brands of coconut water are the same, for example - some are straight-up coconut water, others have sugar and "natural flavoring" (whatever that means). When you go to restaurants, comb carefully through the menu's descriptions and order substitutions when necessary. It's important to be hyper-vigilant about the food you buy, and sometimes it's a pain, but it's worth it.
- Eat mindfully and deliberately. If you're the sort of person who kind of mechanically just shoves food into your mouth just because it's sitting there on the counter, then STOP. Repeat this to yourself: Everything that you eat is a choice. Your brain had to send a signal to your hand to pick up this food item and put it in your mouth, so you can't say, "I couldn't help it" or "it was an accident!" Eating is never an accident. Just remember that when the cravings hit. If you "cheat," it's because you chose to.
- Leftovers are awesome. I've been cooking big dinners at night, and packing leftovers for lunch the next day. It's one less meal to worry about. And get used to eating non-breakfast foods for breakfast.
- Don't judge others, but do be ready with knowledge. Other people will ask you about Paleo. They'll want to know about it, and they might judge you. They might concern-troll you. I say, answer their questions and lead by example, but be careful not to make them feel bad. If you bust out with a whole "wheat is evil" sermon, they might resent you for it, especially if they're already feeling guilty/helpless about their eating choices. Be knowledgeable about Paleo, understand WHY you're doing what you're doing, but be cool about it.
- You don't have to do this FOREVER. As I said earlier, some people switch to a more manageable 80%-Paleo lifestyle after their first 30 days. You need a strict 30 days so you can detox, but after that, you can gradually re-introduce some foods if you really CAN'T live without them. (Do it gradually, because your body WILL be irritated with you.) Just don't go back to the way you were before. You should still be pretty judicious about what you will allow in your body. But you can breathe a little after. If you totally feel like you need to have a mocha frappucino, have one. Just not every day, okay?