I was a poster child for the FDA food pyramid…the queen of whole grains. I have a strong family history on both sides of Type II diabetes so I have been very vigilant about diet and exercise. I was bewildered because the more I followed the whole grain, low fat diet, the fatter and fatter I got. I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism, but treatment didn’t generate weight loss. I did have niggling reservations about whole grains; after all, that’s how we fattened our livestock on the farm I was raised on. I dismissed my reservations (because the experts told me to) and applied myself ever more diligently…and my weight crept up to 188 pounds.
As a 50-year-old female at 5’5, this is not so attractive. Worse, the weight was impacting my activities. I regularly participate in long distance hiking and biking (4 – 6 hours nonstop at least once a week). I have ridden metric centuries and routinely bike 40 miles in a weekend. I kayak, boogie board, horseback ride, ski, and snowshoe. I spent my 49th birthday snowshoeing at treeline in Rocky Mountain National Park. I SHOULD NOT BE FAT.
Every diet I tried gave me minimal results at best or introduced ways of eating or foods that I found to be unhealthy and unsustainable. But when I would cut calories too much, I would bonk and be unable to participate in my activities of choice. I was really suffering. I was grinding out hikes and gritting my teeth through bike rides. I began experiencing debilitating headaches, hip pain, and tingling in my feet. I was lethargic, depressed, puffy, and irritable. Anti-depressants came next and let me feeling groggy and drugged. And the headaches just got worse. I was in a downward spiral mentally and physically. I had tried a litany of vitamins and supplements and never felt measurably different no matter how many I took.
I came across the Paleo Diet when I was researching ways to deal with side effects of anti-depressants. I searched the term and clicked on the link to a new life. In my gut, I immediately recognized the logic of Paleo eating. I don’t know if this diet is right for everyone. What I do know is that is indisputably the right one for my body type.
I can only speculate that I was very insulin resistant and the initial shock of the Paleo Diet was a real challenge for me. While I was never hungry, for the first month, I struggled almost daily with cravings and feeling rather weak and puny at times. I was committed, however, and I continued with my activities level. I bought and read Paleo for Athletes and the guidance in there, particularly allowing sports drinks, helped me significantly during endurance activities. Then I had a breakthrough. I experienced, for the first time in my life, the “runner’s high.” Instead of feeling simply wrung out, hot, and sweaty after biking a steep trail, I felt jazzed. I was actually riding with the big boys! I now routinely get energized by exercise instead of worn out by it. My husband had no idea how much trudging I had been doing over the years. I’m amazed I stuck with it!
It’s been just three months eating the Paleo way. I am losing, on average, a pound a week and the weight loss pace is now picking up. I used to have to preload with Ibuprofen before big events to stave off soreness. I am now using no NSAIDS and experience little or no lasting soreness. Ski season just kicked off and I am skiing without stiffness or aches. I look and feel 10 years younger. I can breathe freely as my nasal allergies have magically disappeared. The few deviations I have made from the Paleo diet always have consequences enough to remind me that this is the way I have to eat if I want to have a healthy, full, active life. THANK YOU!