To begin, in addition to some of my favorite recipes, I want to cover the Paleo/Primal plot: the who, what, where, how, and why of Paleo. Since this is also my first blog post I’m starting with why I chose (and continue to choose) a Paleo lifestyle.
I have always believed that looking good is the side effect of being healthy. As a result, I have never “been on a diet” and instead focused on what I believed to be a healthy lifestyle. In my early 20s I spent 2 hours at the gym 5 days a week, tracked calories and stuck to low fat foods. I have to be honest and admit that I looked pretty good. At 5’4″ I weighed in at a curvy and muscular 120 lbs. Yeah, I looked healthy but I was prone to injury and always hungry. I quit lifting weights and replaced outdoor runs with the elliptical due to joint pain, especially my knees. Eventually I became convinced that being vegetarian was the healthiest lifestyle. I gave up the little remaining meat in my diet (boneless skinless chicken breasts and fish) and replaced it with beans and tofu. I only felt worse; as I struggled to keep my body fat percentage in a healthy range my weight and mood fluctuated constantly and I developed IBS symptoms. By the time I was 28 I felt like I was 68. I finally had to ask myself, “if I am doing all the right things to be healthy why does it feel all wrong?”.
Then my husband (boyfriend back then) suggested we watch a movie called “Fat Head”. It took some digesting. I was skeptical yet intrigued that grains may be at the root of my problems and that meat and animal fats were the solution. Since I had been a very happy, healthy, and carniverous child I decided to look into it further. I found marksdailyapple.com and was convinced to try eating Primally. After 3 weeks I was a believer. I had spent that time researching and eating all things Primal/Paleo. I was back at my ideal weight and body fat percentage. I felt amazing! After 14 years of pain and fatigue attributed to Fibromyalgia I had my first pain free day. Even better was that I was eating bacon (and steak – a world without steak is no world for me)! I stopped counting calories and spending long hours at the gym. Instead I got a standing work station, ate when I was hungry, played in the park, walked and hiked.
I am not perfect. For a long time I avoided “lifting heavy things” for fear of further joint injury/pain. Last year changes at work created a very stressful environment. My coping mechanism was chocolate. Unfortunately, I did not choose dark chocolate and instead went to the office candy bowl. I ate more Crunch bars, Milky Way, and Yorks in a few months than I had eaten my entire 30+ years of life. I started to gain weight (duh!) and felt tired and sore again. I used the tired and sore as an excuse to cut back on my activity level. I only felt worse. *sigh* So, I dug down into a forgotten reserve of will power and gave up the candy. I felt better but fell into eating cheats on an almost daily basis (ie gluten free processed foods, rice, potatoes, and other “healthier” carbs). I was still not feeling my best. So, I went back to the basics. I elimated cheats, began moving more, and added training with kettlebells 3x a week. Once again, within 3 weeks I was back to a happier healthier place. It was an excellent reminder of why I chose this lifestyle in the first place. I know I am not alone in needing to eliminate some of the stressers in my life to achieve even better health. However, until I make that leap, eating healthy, keeping active, and lifting heavy things means I am better able to handle the stress and maintain my health. It is wonderful to feel as strong and healthy as I look!
What’s your story? I would love to hear why you went Paleo/Primal, why you continue to go paleo, or even why you are considering it (leave a comment)!