Agggghhhh. I know that’s not adequate English grammar but it does emphasise how I feel at the moment, changing habits.
I have spent the last four weeks on a new food plan called the Paleo (aka Caveman diet).
It must be said, I don’t do dieting. I find it tedious and ridiculous. Dieting is usually targeted to people who want to look like a celebrity or be bought into by another fad. I hate it. I think weight watchers is a waste of money and I think that the countless dieting ‘amazebob’ advertisements shoved in your face while looking at various women’s (and in some cases men’s) magazines is just for selling magazines and not for actually helping anyone lose weight.
This is because in simple terms dieting does not work.
Intake of food calories minus calories burned through exercise is how you begin to lose weight.
Nothing else really matters. (Although obviously it’s a major thing in itself).
Diets do work. A diet is a type or selection of foods to help you eat healthier and consume more of the ‘better’ calories. Its not about restricting calories, and it’s not about quick fixes. Its about changing of habits and becoming a better person both mentally and physically through eating certain foods.
- Vegetarian is a diet.
- Vegan is a diet.
- Gluten free is a diet.
- Detoxing or fasting are diets.
- Paleo is also a diet.
It was with trepidation that I read all about this Paleo diet from various on-line sources.
I read about people from Nerd Fitness who had, overtime, lost weight and also started new pursuits in sports or other activities to help keep the weight off. I read of Fit Bomb, another guy who got into paleo and explains it very well. Then
I found Joel Runyon who was also on this said diet but he decided to do something altogether different. Having already proved he could lose weight and gain a six pack by completing an eight week paleo program, he finished it off with a photo shoot to show everyone just how cool this could really be, then he created the plan so anyone could use it.
Well, all that is fine I thought but all three are blokes and all three are in America. I figured none of that can surely be brought across to my female level in Grimsby. Nor do I want to be spending money (not expensive but still money) to guys and organisations set up to show me what essentially is ‘just’ a new way of eating.
Meantime I was carefully counting my calories (can’t beat a spread sheet), and watching what I ate. Still nothing was shifting from my backside.
I obviously need more exercise so began the Couch to 5k running plan. I had tried it before, twice. Each time failing by the fourth week due to boredom or sickness. Another try wasn’t going to hurt.
At the same time I also began following a 100 sit ups, push ups and squats plan to complete in the days between jogging to ensure all round exercise.
Still, I thought, I’ve got to get this whole food thing sorted out else the jogging is going to be wasted.
Then, out of the blue, Joel Runyon posted a free four week meal and exercise plan on his blog, called the No Excuse Workout. Just like that. Free.
I downloaded. It looked pretty simple. So I thought what hell. Lets go for it. I’ve got absolutely nothing to lose apart from the flabby bits!
Out goes the bread, the potatoes, the crisps.
In comes steak, more steak and even more steak.
My first week was a shocker. Not in terms of what I was eating but actually the quantities. Meat for breakfast, meat for lunch followed by meat for dinner, what?! I don’t eat that much meat. I was on the verge of becoming vegetarian before this and by Sunday I had consumed more meat in the week than I had a whole month previous. I felt ethically torn but to do paleo right means to eat grass fed beef and free range chicken so I persisted.
As the weeks went on it became apparent that it wasn’t just about meat. It was also about fish, vegetables, salad and fruit. By week four I was pretty much working it on my own. A snack of walnuts here, a tuna steak there and a pile of salad over there.
I started off on Monday the 14th January weighing 166Ibs. By Sunday 6th February I weighed 158Ibs.
I lost 8Ibs, just like that.
Some might argue that’s crap. To me, it’s a miracle. In the last 13 years of having a desk job and having my life slowly turn sedentary with bursts of fitness in between, I have never lost that much in one go. My confession to that earlier loss is that there were two things I did not give up;
- Tea in my sugar, which I have up to three times per day
- Chocolate, which create battles of craving in such magnitude it’s not a fair fight.
I figured there is no point giving up everything in one go if it’s new eating habits I’m trying to create.
Having tried to give up sugar in my drinks before, its not easy nor is it worth the stress against the other positive things I was doing. So the sugar stayed.
The chocolate stayed because it was okay (apparently). Yes more sugar, I know, but also better chocolate. 72+% cacao in fact rather than a bar of dairy milk.
At the end I had not just changed my food choices but I was learning more about why these particular choices are important. It might sound obvious to cutting out the carbs but without a meal planner it’s almost impossible to figure out what you should be eating with what.
In my mind if it’s not absolutely simple, I’m not doing it.
This was simple.
Conclusion Would I do it again?
Well, actually I haven’t stopped (apart from cutting down on the meat again).
I have got a target weight in my head that I want to reach and by now I’m so engrossed in getting there that neither the lure of warm bread or crisps can distract me.
Its actually nice to eat steak and know it’s filling me up and fuelling me for my exercise. It’s also nice to eat avocado, and prawns on their own. Neither of which I’d ever done before. You experience the real taste of these foods without them being covered in sauce or undervalued when a pile of chips are added.
I don’t suffer from fatigue any more
It was expensive. There is no way around this. Meat is very expensive at the moment and the more that comes from local farms and from animals that have been reared responsibly, the more expensive it becomes. I advocate expensive food all around though and I make no apologies for it being expensive. I bet you it’s still cheaper than a spending out stupid amounts at the gym, at Weight watchers and those companies that post you meals to your door.
Paleo gives you the advantage that you know what you’re eating, every single time. Something that is becoming a rarity in this day and age.
Brick wall time
Exercise, as discussed in an earlier post is definitely becoming a good habit. However now I’ve hit a mental brick wall.
Monday I began week 6 of the C25K plan. All was going well until my third jog of the session and I had to stop due to such awful stomach cramps I thought I was going to be sick. Got home, recovered, no problem.
That has slightly unnerved me. Should I be jogging?
Then I’ve suddenly found my indoor exercises slowly dropping off, to the point I haven’t done any push ups since last Monday. Not good. Why? Because I have reached the hundred, for all three areas and I don’t want to push myself any harder. Why? Because I’m a scaredy cat. I figure if I push harder I am going to fail. Just doing 100 of this and 100 of that is also repetitively boring but if I don’t do it the weight comes back to show me who’s boss.
The brick wall is there, taunting me.
So for the third time I’m going to start the press ups, push ups, and squats. This time I’ve got to get to 150. I’m not going to fail because I’ve got a challenge and that is what I need. However it’s making sure I do something which is why I have got to start again.
Doesn’t matter if I do 5 squats or 150, it’s the action of doing them regularly, so that if I don’t do it eventually it will seem too strange not to. Zen Habits explains it better.
Who knew losing weight could be this consuming, but it is. It’s not a fad and it just can’t be done quickly. I understand this now which can sometimes prove rather frustrating. Rather than just focussing on losing weight, I think it’s more important to want to be healthy and fit.