My 30 day Paleo Challenge
For the past 30 days, I have been following a strict paleo way of eating (I don’t like the term ‘diet’). I haven’t mentioned it before because I wanted to complete the self-imposed challenge first and see how it went.
There is more to it, but to sum it up quickly, this means no grains, dairy, beans, & sugar. There is a lot of information out there on the science behind this, so I’ll let you do your own research. Before you think I’ve lost my mind, let me explain how I got to this point.
I’ve struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember.
I have PCOS (poly-cystic ovarian syndrome), which comes with IR (insulin resistance) and seriously affects my hormones.
Diabetes runs in my family.
Statistics show that something like 40-50% of women with PCOS will develop diabetes by age 40.
I just turned 37. I don’t have diabetes. I want to keep it that way.
I need to lose 60ish pounds.
I don’t eat a lot of junk food, fast food or processed food. For the past 4 years, our family has eaten 80% all natural/organic. We don’t eat High Fructose Corn Syrup, artificial colorings or artificial sweeteners. I rarely eat white flour, and instead eat brown rice, whole wheat flour, and other whole grains. I don’t drink soda. I don’t smoke. I rarely drink.
Cutting out those things made no change whatsoever on my weight, and I was out of things I could cut out of my diet (almost). So something else must be going on.
A little sidenote:
Over the past few years, as we have done more research on Lovebug’s Sensory Processing Disorder and ADHD, we also seen over and over that a GFCF (gluten free, caisen free) diet would likely be best for her.
I was fine with the gluten free part, after all there are tons of substitutes out there for breads, muffins, crackers, etc – many of which we already liked.
The CF, or dairy free part was another story. Give up cheese? Were they crazy?
Several months ago, I had tried the GF diet with Bug for a while (not even trying the CF part), and in even a short time I realized I felt better after eating. Unfortunately, I was in over my head and didn’t stick with it because I was spending a fortune on groceries. I had to take a step back and figure out how to do GF without all the pre-packaged foods. I needed to get back to what I enjoyed – cooking from scratch.
Fast forward to recently:
I had heard of the paleo way of eating in the past, and knew that it was “no grain, no dairy”. I had dismissed it once again because I could “never” give up cheese. Yet, this lifestyle kept coming back in front of me and I had a strong feeling that this way of eating would be good for me.
Recently, while I was doing some other research online, I saw several references to a “30 Day Paleo Challenge”. Several people were saying, “just give it 30 days of eating the paleo way and see what happens”.
No grains, no dairy, no beans, no sugar……for 30 days? Could I do it?
I decided to give it my best shot. I can do anything for 30 days, right?
Besides, I’m only cooking for 2 at the moment, and I’m in charge of deciding what we eat.
Preparing for the challenge:
First, in order to make my plan, I picked up a copy of the book Everyday Paleo. This book is written by Sarah Fragoso, who is a mom herself to 3 boys. Her book contains a ton of yummy recipes (with pictures!!), as well as a 30 day eating plan, and grocery shopping lists. Remember, she’s a mom, so these are even kid friendly recipes! She talks about incorporating this way of eating into your kids’ lives, and how it can help them. Both on her blog, and in the book, she’s very real about her lifestyle and how it works for her and her family. I love that!
I also cleaned out the fridge and the pantry before I started. Like I said, we already have very few processed foods in the house, but there were a few things like chips & bread that had to go. There are just some foods that I can not have in my house without eating them.
I also prayed about this. A lot. I knew that I couldn’t get through this without God’s help. I am so weak, but He is strong. So I asked for His help.
I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength! Phil 4:13
Then, I was ready!
I did not follow her exact eating plan because I already had food in my freezer that I wanted to use, but I did make several of her recipes and every single one was delicious! I’ll post about those separately, but we’ve been eating very well.
I DID IT! Not a piece of candy, no pizza, no cheese, no ranch dressing, no bread. For 30 days.
I did lose 8 pounds. That is amazing, especially considering I still haven’t bumped up the exercise to where it needs to be yet. But, I can tell you that even if I had not lost an ounce, I would be sold! The physical changes I’ve had are life changing!
Within the first week, I could already tell a difference in how I felt. My energy level was amazing! There were several evenings that I was asking myself “did I have caffeine this afternoon?”, and the answer was always “no”. I felt GREAT. So great that it’s scary to think about how tired I was all the time before. I’ve been running around chasing my daughter up and down the stairs, cleaning house late at night, and feeling overall amazing.
My mind has been clearer, and it’s been easier to focus.
I have had zero "afternoon crashes”. Zero. This is unusual for me. I even had one day that I literally forgot to eat. I met a friend that morning unplanned and then the day got away from me. Before I knew it, it was 3:00 in the afternoon and I hadn’t eaten all day. I KNOW that’s not healthy, but the point is – I still felt great! Normally, I would have been literally shaking, and getting grumpy (just ask my hubby), but I wasn’t at all, so I was able to make a smart choice about what to eat instead of just grabbing something full of sugar to stop the shaking.
No cravings. I am still in shock that I went this long without sugar, ranch dressing, and cheese. Because I haven’t had the highs and lows, I’ve been able to make better choices and really think about my foods instead of just grabbing something because it’s easy or I’m craving it.
I have slept better. I know this because when I wake up in the morning my husband’s side of the bed is still made, which means I’m not tossing and turning as much. Normally, when he’s not in the bed, I end up with the blankets all over the place.
I’m also not getting up during the night to use the bathroom. For ages now, I have gotten up multiple (3-4) times during the night, and had just resigned myself to the fact that it was just how I am. Not any more! I’ve been getting up once on some nights, and there have been many nights I haven’t gotten up at all. Scary to think that the “excess urination” might have been caused by blood sugar issues all along.
Another awesome side effect is one that is probably “too much information”, but I’m going to share it because I know there are thousands of women out there dealing with this, and I want them to know about this!! One of the side effects of PCOS is increased testosterone and unwanted facial hair growth (so my ‘sideburn’ areas often need a little plucking/waxing). In the last 30 days, this has not been a problem! Unheard of! Oh, there has been a stray or two, but overall, I have seen this greatly diminish.
I can tell in my body that I’m less “puffy”. I know that sounds funny since I still have a lot of weight to lose, but I can tell that my arms and legs and other areas are just less swollen. I can see it in my face!
Life changing, I tell you!
I’m keeping on. I’m sold on this lifestyle. Does that mean I’ll never have bread again? Or pizza? Or ice cream? Not a chance! It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. In fact, Sarah Fragoso wrote an awesome post about just this “all or nothing” topic. I think the 90/10 rule applies here. If I can do this 90% of the time, then I’m good. If I choose to have something that doesn’t fit this lifestyle, then it’s just that – a choice. I can tell you that I will make wiser choices. If I want pizza, I’ll make a gluten-free crust. If I want something sweet, I’ll start with fruit, or some dark chocolate. I’ll make ice cream with just coconut milk and fruit in my Vitamix. I know I’ll have beans – I love beans. And corn tortillas. But I can leave off the cheese, and I can make gluten free choices most of the time.
I’ll bump up the exercise! I’m redoing my Couch-to-5K program because I had stopped it for so long that I had to start over. That’s felt really good. I’ll also add in more weight resistance, lap swimming & bike riding. At some point in the future, I would love to look into some CrossFit or Mixed Martial Arts classes because I really want to get stronger in addition to losing weight.
I’ll also continue incorporating this into Lovebug’s life. She’s been eating what I’ve had during this month, but she’s has extras too. I haven’t stopped her dairy intake, but I did decrease it a lot, and I’m trying to make the majority of her foods gluten free again. Overall, it won’t be too challenging to adapt her to this lifestyle, at least 90% of the time. She is already an adventurous eater, eats a great variety of fruits and vegetables, loves sushi (sashimi, actually – she prefers just the fish), loves meat, loves to help me cook, and will try just about anything. The other 10% of the time, she can enjoy her organic, dye-free, gluten-free candy guilt free!
Before you say “I could never do that”, I’m not saying it has to be for everyone. Do your own research. As for me, if eating this way makes me feel this good, I’d be crazy not to continue. Soon, I’ll post some of the delicious recipes that I’ve had this past month!