There are very few things in life that play out in black and white. There is a hell of a lot of grey and it happens to be one of my favorite colors. Gun-metal to be exact, which leans towards my fave of all time, black. But I digress.
I talk a lot about Paleo on my blog and in life because that is my chosen ‘ideal’ diet (remember, diet as a noun not a verb) but it doesn’t mean it’s the only way. For me, the ancestral aspect of food consumption v. modern disease makes too much sense to ignore it. Does that mean I never eat sugar or grain? No. And in fact, I had some pita chips with humus just yesterday – not paleo, for the record. But I do my best and follow the standard at about 80/20, most of the time. My body has found its most comfortable stature while my energy and mood are determined by my adherence to clean eating. I know when I’ve been entirely too flexible with my diet because I’m sad and anxious. I’m not going to blame it on depression or anxiety anymore because it is directly related to the food I eat. I’ve experimented too much with it to say otherwise.
Real life dictates that we follow the ebb and flow of certain situations. Even Mark Sisson says “Don’t be weird.” And to be honest, the great American culture sets us up for failure when it comes to a focus on nutrition, REAL nutrition. A new ‘food’ is created every hour in this country. Of those foods, 100% of them are NOT nutritional, and yet super delicious. It’s difficult to avoid grain and I think it takes a certain kind of mind to really commit, full-on-dedicated to a clean diet. A diet that consists only of protein and plants. Not a better mind or a worse mind, but perhaps an insane one. It’s hard work. It’s a constant mental battle. Some folks can turn it on and off at will, while others struggle and cave throughout their life when it comes to nutrition.
Then of course, there’s the problem of really understanding ‘nutrition’. For whatever reason, people feel the need to justify their choices to me (which is UNNECESSARY and I hope I never have to justify my own in return). I promise I am not judging you or your family. I am merely living my own life the way I choose yet people tend to share ‘but we usually eat pretty healthy” with me. I have a hard time, but have learned to, bite my tongue about the real havoc grains plays on the body. Grains are really a source of malnutrition, so even though you choose whole grains because we’re taught they are the healthier alternative, you’re not on the path of health if that’s the bulk of your diet. Try cutting grains for a month, better yet, 3 months or entirely, but for the occasional indulgence, and tell me you don’t swell up like a pregnant woman in the heat of the summer and wake up with the hangover of a rock star. And please, don’t let those whole grain fishies trick your sensibilities when it comes to your children. If ‘treats’ and sugary drinks work their way into your diet every day it’s a hinderance. I LOVE a treat, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not a ‘treat’ if it’s a daily occurence and don’t get me re-started on the snack situation in this country.
Back to my point: All or nothing? Absolutely not. I will say, however, there is NO EASY SOLUTION. There is no miracle diet that will shed your 10, 30 or 80 lbs of extra weight. None. It takes time and steady, constant work. 2lbs a week is a very reasonable amount of weight to lose on a steady basis. If you have a goal, make it a reasonable one. Google images of “Paleo Before and After” and you’ll see tons of examples of those taking 2 months, 6 months, 12, 18, 24 months to reach their goals! What are you waiting for? As time passes, that’s time that you could have already lost 2 or 12 or 46 lbs and gained tons of energy and enjoyment in life. Your physical appearance is 90% diet. Some say 80%, either way food is HUGE when it comes to fitness and working out only gets you so far. But it gets you no where and leaves you tired and hungry as long as your eating the same foods.
You’re smart enough to realize that it’s already summer, there is no way you’ll be bikini ready by July if you have 20lbs to lose. I don’t care if you’re doing Weight Watchers, the Lemonade Detox, Nutri System, Raw Foods or any other fancy way of shedding pounds. Not to mention that as soon as you hit goal, you go back to your historic eating habits and slowly put the weight back on. Diet is the way a person eats. CHOOSE a different pattern if your current pattern has resulted in illness or weight gain. Understand you could be a thin person but very uncomfortable due to the foods you choose. Diet dictates health.
Life is a journey. A marathon and not a sprint. Start today with every choice. Space your indulgences out more and more each time. Do you indulge everyday? Have a brownie at the picnic this afternoon, then wait till Tuesday to indulge in a chocolate sundae. Wait again till friday for pizza or a sub while maintaining a majority protein/plant diet otherwise. Schedule your cheats/treats/indulgences so your brain doesn’t freak out on you and cause your hands to shovel every piece of junk in the house into your mouth tonight when no one is looking. We’ve all been there. Huge pasta fan? Make it your sunday special. Something to look forward to. Life is an experiment, what do you have to lose? A few pounds? The taste for it? Amazing what happens when you give your body a rest from all the junk.
With all that said, I strive towards a diet of plants and protein everyday. I’m not perfect and I will indulge in grains and sugars at times. It’s almost easier to adhere to a clean diet when folks are watching, so I talk about it a lot. As a result, I have been constantly flattered by friends going out of their way to accommodate ‘my way of life’ which in turn becomes part of theirs. Just last weekend, a friend included a crustless quiche in her quiche buffet at an after-parade brunch – SO THOUGHTFUL. The array of dishes brought to my own backyard bash was OUT of this world with variety, color and taste. I really can’t describe how awesome it was to see the food tables filled with salads, casseroles, dips, sides and platters full of plants and protein. And I swear I didn’t suggest a thing! The food went fast with plate after plate of raves and positive reviews from guests.
IT’S NOT ALL OR NOTHING. So don’t use a cookie as an excuse to throw your hard work out the window, even if it’s only been a day or a month. That’s a day or a month closer to a new life – one where you feel alive, aware, awake because of the fuel you are allowing your body to absorb and run on. It is a new way of thinking. A constant path towards better choices, subtle choices that include less grain and more protein and healthy fats.
Here are a few anecdotes shared with me recently that may inspire you. Please share your own in the comments or on our Facebook page:
- I read your blog and it makes me think more about my own choices. I will never ‘go Paleo’ but I have cut things out and am down 15 lbs. The best part is that my energy is steady. I don’t crash like I used to.
- Since starting my journey into Paleo (about 3ish months now?) I have lost 30 pounds! Got back into my pre-baby clothes, gained a ton of energy and so much more. I am in love with my new way of life. I am learning that it goes beyond food too. I now take daily walks in the sun with the little man, strive to be on the iPad less, and I have cut my workouts in half by doing more HIIT instead of hours on the treadmill.
- I have cut sodas and iced tea out of my drink selection, and now snack on veggies or leftover dinner meat instead. It didn’t happen over night, but I’m in a size pant I haven’t seen since high school.
- After a year of trying my hardest to cut grain, with the occasional pasta splurge, I have lost almost an entire person 89lbs! It’s been really tough and really exciting. People ask what my magic pill was and I tell them I just eat clean and take an occasional walk. Now it’s time to get into working out and shed another 30lbs.
- I tried the HCG diet because my doctor told me I was obese and said I would be a good candidate. I felt like I was being tortured. It set me up for failure by not allowing me proper nutrition and food. I gained 10lbs after I stopped HCG just from the backlash. Once I was able to think again, I realized it was just about the food I ate and I found a few paleo resources, including your easy to read blog, and decided to give myself a long time to lose. I’m down 20 lbs over 3 months. Not a lot compared to what I have to lose, but it’s a start and I’m learning the healthy way.