Here are a few of the interesting lessons I'm learning:
- Make sure you're getting enough calories- I've been plugging in my foods into The Daily Burn for about two weeks, and was surprised to see that some days I was getting less than 1000 calories. I was fine on fat and carbs, but needed more protein and calories. I think that's the real reason my weight loss stopped. I simply wasn't getting enough. Interesting enough, when I added the calories of my small "cheats", I started losing again!
- Try not to be too legalistic about being Paleo- I like what Kurt Harris at Archivore says about the Paleo\Primal diets- that it's not a reenactment, but an example that we can pattern our diets after. Our ancestors were adaptable, as we should be. Perfectionism isn't healthy.
- An 80/20 approach may be more comfortable than 100% Paleo- I love Mark Sisson's approach in The Primal Blueprint about this. Striving for 100% can drive you crazy and drive you back to the old habits you're trying to break. Of course, if you're allergic to wheat or dairy, you may have to keep yourself closer to 100%. But for those of us with no severe allergies and a non-Paleo family, it may be easier to relax a little from time to time- as long as it's the exception and not the rule!
- You don't need fancy ingredients to eat well- Actually, simpler is better. While I would love to try almond flour, coconut flour, and some of the other ingredients that are in many of the fancier Paleo recipes, I haven't had room in my budget. Eventually I will.
- Stay adaptable- For the past month, the fanciest things I've used are almond milk (bought on sale, but you could also make your own) and cacao nibs (which I already had from an earlier health kick). Everything else is straight from the local farmer's markets or on sale at the store (I've had very good luck at Hy-vee lately, but also shop at Aldi's). I am currently searching out alternatives to the stores. It would be great to get the bulk of my purchases from local farmers and my own garden, but this will take a while. In the meantime, I adapt my meal plans to what I can afford and what I can find. Just like Grok did!
- Your measurements may be a better indicator of your success on a Paleo\Primal diet than the scale: I am down 11 pounds and solidly in a size 12 this week. This is shocking to me, because the last time I was at this weight, I was closer to a 16. I cannot believe how many inches I have lost! I wish I had taken my measurements when I started. What's interesting is I'm not exercising all that much. I'm walking a lot and occasionally sprinting, but not much more yet. The reduction in inches is from eating better, not from exercise. I can't wait to see what happens as I incorporate some weight lifting and the occasional intense workout into the mix!
- Let the way you feel guide you- If your body feels great, ignore the scale. I started this diet\lifestyle for the weight loss, but immediately fell in love with how great I feel and the wonderful food. I have never eaten so well and felt so good! I am learning that weight loss really is secondary and to not worry so much. Kind of like that saying "Do what you love and the money will follow". If you focus on your health, the weight loss will follow.
- Know your eating triggers- Personally, I don't have many eating triggers. I don't have a sweet tooth. I don't smoke or chew gum or have any other oral fixations some people struggle with. I can smell something good and walk away. I don't tend to crave anything but the occasional chocolate or creamy treat. As long as I'm not starving, I'm usually ok. But there is one BIG eating trigger I have that makes me want to eat anything to feel better: exhaustion. The few cheats I've had over the past few weeks were directly linked to how exhausted I felt. Knowing your triggers is half the battle- then you can start to deal with them, planning ahead with good, nutricious foods that satisfy, or in my case, planning to get more sleep!
I hope these tips are helpful to those of you who are considering or have just started a Paleo or Primal diet. We are all learning everyday. But what a wonderful journey it is!