Paleo – a reflection

Yesterday, my 30 Day Paleo experiment officially came to an end and I’ve wanted to share my experience with you. You can always read my daily recaps under the daily log tag.

What was the set-up and reasoning?

I had heard a lot about Paleo through the CrossFit community. When I found that my current eating plan was no longer working for me, the holidays and a potentially big weight gain (I have little self control when it comes to cookies) were just around the corner, I felt crappy in general, I decided it was time to give it a try. I had thought about trying Paleo for a while and finally, the timing seemed right.

I started my 30 Day Paleo experiment on October 30th, after I’d spent a handful of days with my parents. The idea was to cleanse and use the time before I’m starting my new job tomorrow – excited!! – to make it as easy as possible while I’m still in a setting with the most control possible. I was still at home, in between jobs, which allowed me to cook most of my meals. One of my challenges was a 10 day trip to California, more about this below.

I followed a program that’s comparable to Whole30, but not quite as strict. On top of non-Paleo foods (grains, dairy, legumes, added sugar or any other additives), I also forwent alcohol, coffee and Paleo-fied treats (i. e. brownies, pancakes, etc. made out of Paleo ingredients) during the 30 day period. To aid weight loss, I also aimed to limit my fruit intake. Whole30 takes it one step further and asks you to skip salt and any sweetener (whether that’s sugar, maple syrup or honey) – I allowed myself salt and honey/maple syrup in small quantities.

You can read more about the why in this post, but in a nutshell, my reasoning can be summed up as the wish for a fresh start, refocusing on wholesome, healthy foods, hoping to kick my sugar addiction and possibly help me lose some weight. I was hoping for clearer skin, less mood swings and better sleep.

I took my measurements, both weight and inches around waist, hip and thigh during the first day of Paleo.

How did I do?

Overall, I think I did great. I went into this experiment aware of my challenges, namely a vacation coming up where I would be unable to cook most of my food and where I’d have to eat out/on the go a few times. As you can read in my daily recap posts, I’ve done well (with minimal slip ups) during my vacation and actually came back losing weight instead of gaining any. I gave my best every day and was rewarded with the following measurements:

Weight: – 3.3kg (- 7.3 lbs)

Waist: – 7.5 cm (- 2.95 in)
Hip: – 5 cm (- 1.96 in)
Tigh: – 3 cm (- 1.18 in)

This is actually really, really good, considering I wasn’t starving myself. I ate plenty of food and even allowed myself plenty of treats.

Speaking of treats. I stuck to the no coffee and no alcohol (mostly) rule, however, I did indulge in a handful of treats in the form of very dark chocolate and a few fruit/nut bars during the vacation. I also ate hummus twice and falafel once during our vacation. Earlier this week, I also ate a tiny bit of bread and felt miserable afterward. My two best friends came to visit over the weekend and when we went to dinner on Friday night (my very last day of my 30 day program), I decided to break the no alcohol rule a few hours early and shared a bottle of wine.

Not drinking coffee was by far the hardest and I’m proud to announce that I stayed strong the full 30 days. I enjoyed my first cup on the day after my 30 day period was over. All in all, I stuck to the plan as much as I could and I’m proud of how well I managed.

How did I feel?

The thing is, I started feeling better immediately. I was fully expecting being extremely tired and/or headachy. I was expecting a very bad mood and severe sugar withdrawal symptoms.

But none of that happened.

I felt great. Right away. My skin cleared up almost immediately. I got out of bed earlier. I felt satisfied throughout the day with the meals and the amount of food I ate. (This changed a little bit during the end of my 30 days, due to period-related hormones, when I also started having chocolate cravings.) I felt energized during my workouts and the little tasks of the day. I felt like I was recovering fast after a CrossFit session. I felt strong during my workouts. In fact, November was a great month for me with a bunch of PRs. I felt like I was running out of steam a bit when running the Big Sur half marathon. But I’m thinking my body still needs to get used to endurance work and burning off fat for those.

I tend to get very emotional when my hormones are out of whack. Sometimes it’s so bad that it triggers a depressive episode. I hate girl-time. This month though, I did not feel depressive at all and the only time I noticed that I would be having my period was when I felt insatiable and wanted to eat all the food.

One funny thing I noticed was that the few times I did cheat, my body reacted already to grains. I was fine after eating the falafel and hummus. Not surprising, since chickpeas always were the beans that I stomached best (unlike black, kidney or white beans). But after eating the bread, my stomach was not happy. I ate a bunch of speculoos cookies yesterday and today and those too, I felt. (At least that package is gone and there will be no more of that stuff now.)

I also felt that Paleo is a lifestyle that is somewhat easy to maintain. I ate out a couple of times and always managed to find something on the menu that I then could modify without being a total pain in the ass guest. I think my attitude of trying to do the best I could without beating myself up over it was just right. Sometimes, you have to accept that things can’t always be perfect.

What now?

Since I’ve felt so great during the first 30 days, I’m definitely going to continue eating a Paleo diet. I managed to reach my goals of losing some weight, getting clearer skin and feeling better overall. What I’ll basically try to do is continue following the 30 day program with the addition of coffee and a glass of wine very infrequently. A lot of Paleos consume dairy, but right now, I don’t feel the need for it. I think I found a good balance of trying to stick to the “rules” as closely as possible while also living a little. I want to continue doing that.

My BFFs were in town this weekend and there were a bunch of non-Paleo foods on the menu, so starting now, I’ll refocus and continue my path. I might’ve gained about a pound over the weekend. Over the next few weeks, I’d like to lose another 5 kgs and lean up some more. I’d like to continue focusing on an eating plan that’s making me feel energized (both during CrossFit and running), something that’ll help recovery and ensure I’m improving as an athlete.

This seems right. 🙂

As an FYI, I’ve been meaning to blog about the Big Sur half and also the girls’ weekend I just had with two of my childhood friends. After 2 months, I’m finally starting my new job tomorrow, so I’m expecting the next week to be fairly busy. I have no idea when the next update will come, but I expect there’ll be a lot to talk about. In the meantime, be safe and take care! Talk to you soon, lovely readers!

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One thought on “Paleo – a reflection

  1. Pingback: 2014 – a year in review | 3ckfoodie

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