In April 2011 I was left devastated. I experienced one of those events that change everything: you’re laid off from work, a family member dies, a relationship ends. The specifics are unimportant. I knew as it was happening my life was about to drastically change, but I never knew it would start with my body – and in a positive way.
Unconscious Paleo Begins
I ate nothing for 24 hours, but soon had enough of the downward spiral life would have been for me if I continued that way. I went food shopping, my brain totally switched off. I was a zombie and have no recollection of that shop at all. I was on autopilot. All I remember is getting home and staring into two bags consisting of turkey, tuna, iceberg lettuce, cherry tomatoes, celery, cucumber, tangerines and red grapes, as opposed to my ‘normal’ shop of southern fried chicken, pepperoni pizza and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream (sorry if I’m making you hungry!).
The truth is I had no clue I was on a ‘Paleo’ diet to start with. I had an unconscious brainwave to eat just as a ‘caveman’ would, believing that I would lose fat and become lean. Who has seen a fat warrior of old? Actually… who has seen one at all?!
I already had a gym membership. I used to go one to three times a month for about 20 to 50 minutes a time (I have the data entries to prove it). But, five days after what I thought to be the end of the world, I began working out 5–7 times a week; a dedication that has not stopped even after 4 years. The combination of diet and exercise meant within just three weeks I lost nearly 30 lbs, and by week seven I had lost over 40 lbs! Until eventually, after twenty weeks, I had lost a massive 70 lbs! I still can’t believe it.
As an endomorph carbs were not my friend – and my diet was packed with them; crisps, pizzas, chips, sandwiches, desserts, the list goes on. Changing my diet meant every single food I was eating was new to me. Previously, I rarely had fruit, never ate vegetables and thought turkey was the driest, worst meat in existence, hence why it was so odd I purchased it while shopping on auto-pilot. My brain felt numb with depression, but my body seemed to be taking over and saving me. I also used to think pasta was almightily healthy and would always choose some kind of chicken pasta meal when I was ‘watching what I was eating’. However, this was probably the worst thing I could have done to myself. Refined white flour contains almost no dietary goodness in itself, which is what white pasta is made of.
Controversially, I like to think my diet is my own take on Paleo, as I eat red peppers and tomatoes from the nightshade family, which a lot of Paleo practitioners – particularly those suffering from autoimmune conditions – stay away from. But they have not done me any harm, in fact I have eaten it because of the contrary. I also now consume whey protein, a derivative of cheese, another product some do not intake. Though cheese and milk are not a solid part of my diet, I do drink a small amount of milk every couple of months if I feel like it.
Experimenting With Paleo
However you choose to follow this ancestral health approach to nutrition it is important to do whatever feels right for you. Start with the basics, stay clear of controversial foods such as milk and then, when you get your weight down to a respectable amount, begin to experiment. For the first six weeks of my ‘diet’ I didn’t consume whey.
Experimenting on your body when it is healthy makes it much easier to see true changes and benefits. Everyone is different and everyone has different goals, abilities and responses, thus the amount of weight you lose, the time it takes and the way your mind will react will be different to many others, so consider only your own thoughts, opinions and experiences. I do not consider my food intake to be a diet – it is a lifestyle I live every day – not for a few weeks at a time. From time to time I will have ‘Hell Days’ (other people call them Treat Days) where I eat pizza and other foods Paleo 100%-ers don’t eat, but I have experienced psychological ‘feel good’ benefits and believe these ‘rare’ carbs force my body to retain a little more water, filling my muscles (temporarily), helping me feel and look bigger – which is important as it inspires me and helps me see ‘my future body’.
My version of Paleo truly changed my life – for the better. Try it under strict conditions for 30 days – you can do it – and I hope you can benefit from this awesome lifestyle as much as I did.