The following is sort of a long, rambling entry about food, weight, and possible solutions…
So, I’ve said before that eating paleo/primal hasn’t been a “magic answer” for my weight loss. I might have had an initial drop in inches, but I have stayed pretty much the exact same size since. I started with paleo in January of 2010, did it for six months with few results and went right back to CW and gained 20 pounds. I started paleo again the following January with the intent that this was IT, and I was going to lose the weight no matter what. I did fine with the eating again (with no noticeable results), for about six months and then….STRESS. My long distance relationship was definitely showing signs of crumbling, and I knew it, but my ex-fiancé dealt with his concerns in the most childish fashion…comfort food galore. Then things got ok again for about six weeks, at which point he got bored of treating me well, and then it finally ended. I admit I floundered badly there for about a month. It was more about finding something that didn’t make me want to vomit and was easy…eating SOMETHING, or not at all. So I ate like crap because it stayed down and made me feel “better”. Perhaps it was a rebellion thing.
As I started putting the pieces back together, I knew it was crisis time, weight wise. I very briefly considered rejoining Weight Watchers. The idea depressed me utterly as I remember the hunger and lack of satisfaction I always had when I followed the plan. (For the record, I did lose weigh on WW, but I found it impossible to maintain once I dropped to the lower points bracket. No offense to anyone on WW now, and I acknowledge that they’ve changed some of their premises about food for the better, but I really didn’t want to be a part of it.) I KNOW that eating an ancestral diet is the right way for me. I do NOT want to go back to the heartburn, reflux, and sleeplessness I suffered from eating “healthy whole grains”. Paleo, for me, is about ultimate nutrition. The foods are more nutritionally dense than grains are.
However – this is supposed to be “easy”, and it’s not. Changing my food habits were easy enough. I didn’t have any issues cutting out bread and ditching the idea that my curries needed to be piled on top of a bed of rice. (Lettuce wraps and vegetables are your friends!) Everything I eat is minimally “primal”, if not complete paleo. I’m just not losing weight, and that was the hard part. As I read forums and facebook groups on this subject, it occurred to me that even with this lifestyle, there was a great variation in what works for other people. Some people thrive on VLC (very low carb), others can’t tolerate the slightest bit of dairy, others eat all the fruit they want and still lose weight. Aside from the raging battles over whether or not anyone should be eating CAFO (concentrated animal feeding operations) meat, non-organic vegetables, and dairy full stop, MOST of the time people can agree that we are better off without the grains, and everything else, organic or no, CAFO or grassfed, WAS better. Most of the time. Some people in those groups would argue that the sky was purple.
So, now what? Paleo IS the answer, but what form of paleo is *MY* answer? For the record, I don’t have the answer…YET, but it was time to look at the facts. I read Mark Sisson’s 17 Reasons You’re Not Losing Weight, and got to thinking. Well one thing I KNOW is that I wasn’t exercising enough (even though it’s highly touted that you don’t NEED to exercise to succeed with weight loss on paleo). This is changing. I have a new motivational tool which I will make a separate blog post about. I am considering joining a gym for weights, and I’m doing more walking. I briefly flirted with the idea of doing a Couch to 5K program, but I don’t want to become a runner. I would like to try sprinting though. I often get the urge to just RUN, but I think sprints fit my desires more than jogging 5K. So that’s next up. Dairy…yeah, I eat dairy. But not a lot, just cream in my coffee and the odd piece of cheese or occasional dollop of sour cream on my taco salad. I really don’t WANT to give up dairy at all. I could if I had to. The “maybe you’re eating too much” point did make me stop and wonder though.
Am I eating too much? Actually, I have NO idea what I’m eating in a given day, nutrient-wise. For now, I’m logging my food on My Fitness Pal, and it’s given me a calorie goal based on my weight. Obviously their overall nutrition goals are vastly different than mine, so I played with the percentages to be roughly 50% fat, 35% protein and 15% carbs, without changing the calorie goal. For the first day, I tried not to look at the numbers and just eat as it felt natural. It was a pretty normal day for me, despite being a Saturday, but I logged a whopping 16g of carbs for the day. A friend of mine has a severe thyroid issue, and was totally unable to lose weight unless she ate at least 50g of carbs in a day. This number made me rethink EVERYTHING (especially since I’ve long suspected that my thyroid wasn’t functioning optimally) – since cutting out grains, I have been eating VLC, with rare exceptions when I’d have a sweet potato or a small portion of white rice. Most of the time I had SOME vegetables, but not a lot, and not often because I’m lazy.
So my goals right now are to try to eat at least 50g of carbs a day…it’s actually harder than I thought though. The first day I made myself some cauliflower – I had no idea that cauliflower was SO low carb! Argh, plan thwarted! Once I had eaten and logged my meal, I was simply too FULL to contemplate eating any more, even for the sake of the carbs. The next day I ate a sweet potato and all was well on the carb front. Still, since I have weight to lose I don’t want to get my carbs solely from potatoes. I am planning to look through some vegetable ideas for this week before I go shopping so I have the right stuff in the house. I have classically been very picky with vegetables, but I’m learning to like some new ones.
Additionally, I have decided to stop taking my hormonal birth control pill. I’m hoping this is the biggest catalyst for the weight coming off. Previously I have always been able to lose weight when I tried, and this time, even with exercise I wasn’t losing any. I suspect the pill could have dragged down my thyroid function, so I will just have to wait and see. I’ve also upped my supplements and started setting an alarm on my phone so I remember to take them. I’m hoping that with all these changes, I start seeing some results soon. Time will tell…
Congrats if you made it through all that! If anyone has any helpful suggestions, I would love to hear them. 🙂
ETA: WOW – shortly after I published this post, I came across this article. Was this written for me??? It certainly seems so! I have said MANY TIMES since getting serious again back in October that I felt like my body just wanted to hibernate. I said those very words again this morning! *gobsmacked* I’m going to read this a few more times and try to REALLY understand the thyroid hormones. And with this new information, I think I’m going to choose NOT to feel bad about including more sweet potatoes. This is eye-opening.