When I first meet people and they find out that I am paleo I normally hear people tell me this sad sad story about how “they could never ever ever give up bread or cheese.” This normally happens in a person’s most distressed voice, as if I were telling them I gave up oxygen or water… This generally makes me giggle because I was once that person. Thankfully though, humans are able to adapt to both small and big changes, and that’s what my body did.
I used to nom down on cheese-its, eat a sandwich or cereal for every meal, and eat white potatoes like they were no one’s business… so what made me change my mind? I had tried giving up gluten (does anyone really know what this is..?) and dairy for about three months and I thought I was hardcore cause I could do it– I initially did this because I was trying to address my thyroid issue. Then after reverting back to old eating habits I had challenged a coworker to eating paleo for 30 days. Seems easy, right? Well, it wasn’t so easy but we managed to do it and shortly after we both reverted back to our terrible eating habits. About a year later, after months and months of a different coworker telling me the crazy benefits of being full time paleo and some insight on how to meal prep for each week, I decided to commit… of course I didn’t tell him– I couldn’t let him know that he had anything to do with my sudden change of mind and lifestyle.
The first week was the hardest. I had no idea what to cook or how much food I would need each day so I felt like I was starving. Thankfully Quest Bar‘s exist and Mark’s Daily Apple without these two I would have starved. Slowly, I started to know my body better and created meals that would make me feel full throughout the day. After about 30 days I forgot what I had given up. Once I stopped buying things like bread and cheese, and once I cleaned out my cabinets of things that weren’t paleo I forgotten that I wanted them. I made myself stick to strict paleo for the first two months before I allowed myself a treat. As humans, we often get tempted and when we give into those temptations when we have clear goals in mind we often allow ourselves to continually give into them– that is what I was avoiding. After two months I had my first treat meal, one of my grandma’s cookies, it was delicious. Something that I continually remind myself is that if I really really want to eat something, and I have to have it, I allow myself that because I don’t believe food should ever make you feel bad or sad for not eating something. Eat what you want, but if you have goals hold yourself to those guidelines. I truly saw this change as a lifestyle change– a slow and steady journey that complimented my fitness goals.
About six months after starting paleo my crossfit gym decided that for the New Year we would have a Zone challenge. We met for about 2 hours on New Year’s Eve and we were educated on how to do this. I had decided that I wouldn’t participate since I had been strict paleo, but my coach Zack said something that triggered a fighter in me. He said, “It’s ok, not everyone can be committed.” He said this to me and I got mad, and then I got really angry, and then I decided I needed to prove a point and him wrong….I have been paleo/zone for almost four months now. So I guess he is the real winner of that fight. The difference between paleo and paleo/zone is that on paleo I was eating whenever I felt hungry. On the zone diet I eat a specific amount of protein, carbs, and fats for 3 meals, and 2 snacks. Being someone who goes to the gym as much as possible I eat about 20 blocks a day, roughly 2000 calories… I was eating 3x as much as what I was used to on just paleo. I was freaking full for the first couple of weeks. Now, my body is programmed and ready for fuel throughout the day! It’s pretty awesome!!
This program is supposed to help you build muscle and burn fat. I think that it works, I am getting stronger and I am seeing changes in my body and I have officially stopped losing weight– which for crossfitters and lifters this is a huge accomplishment! I still have my cheat meals.. cough sushi cough… but my limits and guidelines have been firmly established and they keep me in line!
My advice to you is to stop placing limits on yourself. If you want to make changes, start small. If you don’t think you can give it all up, give up bread for two weeks and see how you feel, then cheese and then legumes. Listen to your body. Ask for help and advice from those around you. Believe in yourself. Learn to love yourself. Accept that there will be harder moments than other. But don’t be afraid to change your lifestyle because you don’t think you can live without these things. Chances are you will adapt and you conquer.
Go out there and try!