I started walking during lunch breaks and joined WeightWatchers and at the end of a year I had lost 65 pounds. I felt great, for a while…but slowly and insidiously the weight crept back on. I didn’t regain ALL of the weight, but I regained most of it, enough that the general fatigue and lack of motivation set back in.
I’m not sure where my mental shift came from, maybe it was the death of my Grandmother due to complications related to Type 2 Diabetes or my Father’s pre-diabetic diagnosis, maybe it was the fact that I was creeping up on 40 and all of the research I read talked about how much harder it was to lose weight and get fit as you get older (especially for women). I think it was all those things and the fact that I was tired of being fat. When I looked in the mirror, the person looking back was not the person that I knew I was.
In November of 2011, the hula halau that I dance with decided to have a "Biggest Loser" type competition. I started my "diet" by dropping all starches, grains and all processed foods and refined sugars from my diet. I also increased my water consumption and fruit and vegetable intake. I began going to the gym most days of the week, cycling between circuit strength training and cardio intervals. Through my hula sisters, I heard about a local personal trainer who hosted weekly “Boot Camp” classes on a drop-in basis. I dropped-in. It kicked my butt! I could only barely do about half of the exercises and it took me a full week to get over the muscle soreness. But you know what? Even though it was hard and I was sore, it felt good to be moving and pushing myself! I started going to boot camp every Saturday morning and it started getting easier (not easy, but easier). I started to notice changes in my weight and energy level.
On January 1st, 2012 I started a 30 day Paleo Challenge. I started out by following the meal plans and recipes outlined in the challenge but quickly caught on to the "rules" and began planning my own menus. After the first 30 days of strict Paleo (no dairy, no grains, no beans, no processed or refined foods or sugars, etc) I felt GREAT!! The changes in my mood, energy, physical well-being and athletic performance were huge. No more blood sugar ups and downs! No more stomachaches after meals! My family was even starting to come around to this way of eating! (Well, my husband anyway...)
After the 30 day challenge ended, I was sold! A friend suggested that I take a look at marksdailyapple.com. I loved the 80/20 principle! It all made sense to me and I had already experienced, first-hand the results of a low-carb diet high in fresh vegetables and clean protein. I liked that the Primal Blueprint lifestyle allowed for the inclusion of some quality dairy (if it agreed with your system). It seemed friendlier and less restrictive while still touching on all of the healthy benefits of the Paleo diet.
I have been living primally ever since. Since the end of October 2011, I have lost over 60 pounds. I currently weigh less than I did my Senior year in high school. For the first time in my adult life I don't care about losing weight. I feel good in my skin! My new goals are to get stronger and leaner but I could care less what the scale says!
I incorporated a Whole30 in there right before my 39th birthday and I had a "cheat" week while on vacation but by and large, I will continue to eat and live this way long-term. It is not a diet. It is a lifestyle and as a result I am in better physical condition than I have been in my entire adult life, oh yeah, and no more back fat!
By the way, I won the “Biggest Loser”…
What was the biggest challenge to adopting a carbohydrate-restricted or paleo diet?
When I began the paleo diet, my family drug their heels a bit. My daughter was a carb-heavy vegetarian and my husband didn't "get it". It created some problems in the meal planning arena and some resentment about the difficulty it posed to eating out at restaurants.
It can also be quite expensive starting out. Especially if you're used to eating cheap, junky fast food and processed foods. Once we made the initial adjustment we realized that we were eating better quality and may even be saving money due to not eating out at restaurants several times a week.
What advice (if any) would you give to someone interested in trying a carbohydrate-restricted or paleo diet? Were there any obstacles that you overcame that could help future dieters?
Stick with it! If you are a sugar junkie like I was, it takes at least a week to get past the cravings. I ate a lot of grapefruits the first couple of weeks!
It can also really help to create weekly meal plans. Knowing what you are going to eat in advance for the week reduces the chances that you're going to put something "bad" into your mouth and it allows you to combine shopping trips for the week and prep ingredients for ease of preparation.
I also found myself falling into a meal routine during the week. I eat a protein shake or dinner leftovers for breakfast and a big salad with whatever protein we have on hand on it every work day. It's delicious, convenient and makes my mornings a little easier.