On Going Paleo: Thirty Days Later

Well guys, it's been thirty days. I definitely haven't been perfect--I strayed on purpose a few times and sometimes I even messed up by accident. But it's time for me to come out. I've now been Paleo for a month and these are the facts:

1. I've almost completely lost the ten pounds I gained when I moved to Charlottesville and I've barely lifted a finger yet.
2. My temperamental skin barely ever breaks out anymore. If it does, it's because I found myself in some dairy or gluten.
3. The bald spot that's found a home on the back of my head (I have Alopecia Areata) has already begun growing in.

If you aren't familiar with the premise of the Paleo diet, this is sort of it in a nutshell: No grains. No dairy. No sugar. No beans. No peanuts? There are a couple things that confuse me and I'm still trying to figure out what works. For some reason, it's easy for me to think of it like this: You're like a vegan, but you're gluten intolerant, eat meat instead of soy and you don't like rice. What I know for sure is that you must eat fruit, lots of vegetables, and meat. Seriously, I eat bacon several times a week. That's probably way more bacon than anyone really needs, but you get my point.

Lately I've been thinking about that cereal commercial where the two women are talking and Woman 1 says "Wow, have you lost weight? You look amazing!" And Woman 2 is like, "You bet I did!" And Woman 1 is all, "What's your secret, girl?" and then Woman 2 is like "Whole grains!" Well, I want to make a Paleo version where Woman 2 just says "MEAT!" instead.

Going Paleo isn't just about losing weight. I have lost weight with this diet, but the word "diet" is not used in a way that's supposed to suggest some kind of weight loss program. Yes, if you go Paleo, you're probably going to lose weight. But you're also going to feel better. I've been feeling ambiguously ill for more than three years now, and my symptoms have almost completely subsided already. I no longer feel sick when I eat. I no longer get dizzy. I no longer wake up in a fog and count down the hours until I can get back in bed. I no longer vomit randomly and violently. Then there are the awesome hair and skin improvements. Life is pretty awesome this way. 

So, while I'm ecstatic about returning to my normal weight, I'm also feeling better and stronger than I can ever remember feeling, I'm excited to get back into my running and start adding some weights to my exercise plan, and I generally feel like I can wake up every morning and take on the day.

You can also have dark chocolate, red wine, and tequila. I mean, what else do you need?

If you're still with me, I've included some bits of advice that I wish I had on Day 1 of this adventure. 
  • Don't freak out about the rules--just do your best. Some Paleos drink milk. Some eat yogurt. Some say bacon is bad. You're going to lose it if you try to do it perfectly. Figure out what's most important to you, what your goals are, what makes you feel sick, and always listen to your body.
  • There's always some food item that you think you just can't live without. I thought I would never be able to know happiness without sourdough toast or brie cheese in my life. My advice to you is to just try anyway. Because guess what? You aren't going to die if you can't have it anymore. I haven't had a piece of bread in a whole damn month, and I feel incredibly satisfied with my life. Here's something to think about: If I can wake up every morning and go to work and set up an entire pastry case of freshly baked scones and croissants, then I think that you can get up every morning and not buy one.
  • If you actually do feel like you might die if you can't have what you're craving, get yourself a small serving of it. If you've been doing Paleo right, chances are that you're going to end up feeling really sick if you have a bit of cheese or a donut or whatever it is that you want, and I think that negative reinforcement sometimes works when you're trying to figure out what's important to you and your future diet. So get all bloated and feel sick and don't beat yourself up about it, and promise yourself that next time you'll try harder not to feed yourself so much crap.
  • Figure out some new food habits and stick with them. I've always been a latte drinker, and it was really hard to transition to black coffee. I loved my lattes! I realized that it was the taste of espresso I was missing more than the milk, and so I make myself a double shot almost every day. I put just a splash of hot water in to dilute it. A month ago that would have sounded so boring to me, but now it's actually a part of my morning that I look forward to every day.
  • Find a friend to do this with. My mom is awesome and I'd be really lost without her sometimes. Rob is also amazing because he isn't completely into it, but he eats what I make without complaint, and he is constantly reading articles about Paleo and doing all this research to help me learn new things about my diet. That's another thing--read as much as you can. It's easier to adopt this lifestyle if you understand why exactly it makes sense.
  • Plan ahead--don't let yourself get hungry. If you're out and about or you're at work, you need to make sure you're bringing yourself a snack or you'll be able to get something to eat that's not going to ruin your whole day. If you get hungry while you're out, it's usually really hard to find something to eat. You basically can't eat anything that comes from a package, so it's not like you can just stop at a gas station and grab some crackers. I like bringing a bag of carrots or grapes, or a couple slices of turkey with me when I go to work in the morning. Hard boiled eggs are sort of awesome because they're easy to make and you can easily bring them with you for breakfast or a snack. Just make sure you're planning ahead so you don't end up torturing yourself when the only thing around you is a McDonald's or a Dunkin Donuts.
  • If you don't like to cook, you have to learn to do it anyway. This diet is impossible if you only eat out.
Got it? Good! Because I have some recipes that I've been waiting to share!

Let me know if you have any questions or are confused by something I said. 
For this post I'll respond to all comments/questions below, in the comment section instead of through email.