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Considering Paleo

I  have a lot of thoughts and not a lot of structure to them. Let’s see what we can do with this.

If my weight loss trend continues as it has been, I will have reached my halfway point for my weight loss goal. That mind-blowing concept aside, it is time I started to consider what I would do after I reach my weight loss goal.

First and foremost, I have vowed to myself  ‘never again.’ Gaining this weight back is not an option, and will not happen, so going back to my old diet is not an option either.  With that out of the way, I  have my biggest question to ponder: do I want to continue on with the paleo, and turn it into a lifestyle instead of just a “diet?”

Clearly, I do  not know about this. There are some things that, after having been on paleo, that I never want to ingest ever ever again: soda. There are things that I don’t really miss: pasta. There are things I have discovered don’t taste as good: chips (some), mayonnaise.  I suspect I will find a lot of other things just don’t taste as good as they used to:  bread, french fries, pasta. But there are also some things I do miss (and, sometimes, simutaneously am revolted by): pizza, fettuccine alfredo, rolls, biscuits, sandwiches. Need I go on?

Part of me wonders and suspects if I just have a psychological need/want for these items. That I remember that eating these things made me feel good, or that they tasted good, and so I want them psychologically. Even, as in the case of my chip binges, if I don’t think that they taste good anymore, I wonder sometimes if I have a certain psychological addiction to these things.

So, naturally, going off paleo, even if it’s just a little bit, I am worried is going to lead to a slippery slope where I don’t intend to, but eventually do, get back to my old diet.

But I have also talked very often, on this blog and to people who have spoken with  me, how much I love the food that I eat. This is still true, also (when my fridge is full…). This begs the question that if I am satisfied with what I am eating, do not go hungry and do not really yearn for very many other things, why would I consider going off of paleo?

Well.

To break down this dichotomy, I’m actually gonna sort things out, both for you, my humble readers, and for myself. So let us begin.

Fears about maintaining Paleo

This also covers things I just don’t really like.

1) I’m not really sure if I “buy” it.

Yes. Sorry Tim Ferris, Mark Sisson, Dr. Cordian. I’m  not really drinking your kool-aid.  Eating Paleo has been excellent for my weight loss and for exploring different foods, but I really don’t buy that it’s the cure for everything from acne to cancer.  I’m really not sure that I even buy your basic argument — that humans didn’t have time enough to evolve to digest grains properly. 10,000 years is a long time, and while it is true that evolution is generally seen to take even longer, that is a common misconception and based on a misunderstanding of what precisely evolution is or does. Additionally, one could argue that we had already evolved to be able to eat grains before the agricultural revolution, simply by becoming omnivores. Omnivores, as pigs show us, can eat a LOT of stuff.

For that matter, I  have not seen an appreciable difference in my energy levels or general health since starting this diet. I feel the same, with the exception of my improved fitness from Taekwondo, which has more to do with TKD than the diet, IMO.

2) I am/was afraid that I would keep losing weight till I was unhealthy

Through  much explanation from Avi and Natalie today, I have… sorta… begun to understand/accept that this won’t happen. Basically, my fear was this: I  have been losing weight at 2.5 lbs per week for the past two months. I am/was afraid that if I continued on the paleo that I would continue to lose weight in a way that wasn’t healthy.

In case you were wondering what awesome looks like in graphical form.

Apparently this is not true, and I believe what they told me, but I am not sure if I could explain it back. This is something that I am going to talk to Coach about tomorrow. Perhaps with a third explanation it will make more sense.

3) It’s expensive*

I’ve been over this with you guys before — I spend about $200/month on groceries, and this is largely when I’m just feeding myself. If it takes me a while to get a job, or if I am living off  internship money, especially this summer, somehow buying grassfed free range beef who have had a lifetime of counseling service seems less important. I am gonna see if I can get that down some, but yeah.

4) I like bread*

I especially like potatoes.

*These two are important more within the context of the first. If I really thought it was THAT beneficial to my health, I wouldn’t have a problem dropping the dollars on good food, and I wouldn’t have an issue giving up foods that I like. It would just be something that I wanted to integrate as a part of my life to be a healthier and better person.

On that note…

Reasons to keep on Paleo

Paleo is pretty nommy.

Noms.

1) Parts of it fit in with  my life philosophy

I abhor foreign chemicals in the body, for a plethora of reasons that I don’t want to go into right now. I have been called a teetotaler in the past, but I guess I identify more strongly with the straight-edge movement (without the hardcore punk part…). With the exception of tea, I don’t consume caffeine, take pain killers, drink or do any kind of drug. I don’t take hormonal birth control and prefer the “stay in bed and rest” method of getting better.

I  have made exceptions to this in the past. For instance, when I had swine flu and had a fever of almost 103, you bet for damn sure I popped some Aleve.

However, I know that the vast majority of foods that I ate — especially my meat — is filled with chemicals, hormones, and other bad things. I have not had an opportunity to rectify this in the past because of parental and financial situations, but I think going paleo has given me an opportunity to shun processed foods from my diet. While I might not feel a physical difference, I do feel a spiritual one, and this does mean a lot to me.

2) I love the food I’m eating

I’ve talked about this in the past, but going paleo has opened up amazing doors to cooking, improving my relationship with food, and generally eating more tasty things (I think my favorite discovery has been bell peppers —  look for more of those after my grocery trip). I discovered today that mayonnaise is a poor, poor substitute for hot sauce and pretty  much shirked my “need” for it in my diet.

I want the opportunity to try more things, and I have enjoyed the opportunity to do so without my diet being “crowded out” by breads and grains.

3) Slippage

As I alluded to earlier, I am very afraid that if I get off of paleo that I will fall into my old habits: stress eating being the key of these things. Eating paleo has  made me conscious but not hyper-conscious of what I am eating, and that has been good for me. It has also been very good for me emotionally — instead of eating my feelings away, I talk about them. This may be a pretty awful thing for my friends and my boyfriend, but it’s been remarkably healthy for me.  However, I am afraid that if I “allow” breads, grains, and dairy back into my diet, or any combination of these that my awareness will slip and before you know it I’m back up to 185.

Never again.

So these are some of the things I have been wrestling with. Needless to say, I am very surprised that I am conflicted about this. I expected to be chomping at the bit to get off paleo, but I am genuinely conflicted about it.

If you made it to the end of this post, congratulations. You rock. I’d appreciate any input.

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Do it out of love.

My first year at Agnes, I made what most of my friends now refer to as my “body post.” It consisted of several pictures of me in various states of being clothed. I was never naked, and I have pretty  modest underwear generally, but either way it was rather exposing.

The point of this post was not pornographic, but it was to be inspiring.  I was proclaiming that I was no longer ashamed of my body. That instead of being hurt, embarrassed, or hateful towards my body, I was going to love it.

I do not want to post it all here, because it’s a bit lengthy, and that’s besides the fact that the pictures are me, less than clothed, but if you are my friend on facebook, you are free to view it here.

I have been wanting to revisit this post for a while, and decided to do it both within the context of my knee injury and within the context of a few conversations I’ve had recently.

First of all, I still feel this way about my body, and with the exception of a few bad days every once in a while (everyone has them), I have felt this way about my body ever since that post. It is something that I need to keep in mind, however, as I deal with my knee injury. My knee hurts for a reason, and I need to be good to it because it has given me 22 years of good service, and it got hurt trying to do what I wanted it to do, and I need to be better to my knee, and less angry about my injury. After all, it could have been a lot worse.

Unfortunately, not my hand.

Secondly, I think about this post as I think about all the people who have come up to me and told me that I have inspired them, some of them telling me about eating disorders that they have had in the past. I am awed and inspired myself when people tell me their stories and I never cease to be proud of people who take that first leap into being more healthful.

I have never believed in universal, all-encompassing advice, but I think I have found something that I would say to everyone who approaches me about making a lifestyle change: do it out of love. Don’t do it because you hate your body or you aren’t happy with the way you look. Don’t do it because you think you’d be better if you weighed 15 pounds less. Do it because you love your body and you want the best for it. Do it because your body will be happier with a better diet. Do it because you want what’s best for this entity that’s been carrying you for your life.

If you can’t do that, then not only will you not be happy in your weight loss, you won’t be successful. Though I give lots of credit to the paleo lifestyle for my weight loss, I think the biggest thing that has made the difference is that I am doing this because I truly, deeply, love and appreciate all my body does for me, and I want us to have a better relationship. I don’t think negative thoughts about being overweight, or obese (with, of course, some periodic exceptions). I don’t look down on my body for being overweight — after all, I made it that way. I don’t hate myself for getting to this point. All of that negativity will only hold me back. We are moving forward, together, as a team to be a happier individual.

If you can’t love your body, then you shouldn’t be attempting to lose weight. Like a partnership with another human being, any changes you make should come from love, appreciation, and respect. Working with your body is no different.

I am going to go ice my knee, because it deserves it.

Gina

Measurements and Pictures

I’m sorta procrastinating getting started on the stuff I need to do today, but this is a post I  have been wanting to make.

I decided to start taking measurements and pictures for every 10lbs I lost. Nothing special to add here, so let’s get to the good stuff.

Measurements

Bust: 38″
Waist: 32″
Hips : 43.5″

I am amused, because I don’t fit into the typical “body shape” categories. I have always considered myself an “hourglass” figure, though when I read some descriptions, the hourglass nazis say that the bust and hips must be EXACTLY the same number of inches, or, since they’re being generous, the bust can be ONE inch larger than the hips.

Lawl.

Of course, this is by a women’s magazine, who is more interested in caricatures than actual body types. Wikipedia, of course, has a something a bit more realistic to say.

I think that understanding where and how one’s body distributes fat is a useful tool to help women understand why they look the way they do and to understand that things like “I want to lose 20lbs in my thighs” just isn’t going to work. And it also helps people like me understand that I will  never look like a supermodel, cause I just don’t have that body type.

I can imagine Coach rolling his eyes at me, because he is of the opinion that if you’re healthy and don’t have body fat, then it doesn’t matter what “type” of body you are. To him I say, perhaps that is true, but women in the healthiest of shapes are still going to have body fat. We are supposed to have more body fat than men because of that whole, you know, breast thing. So for us, where our body fat is distributed can be an important tool to understand how they look and why.

Anyway, I have a small obsession with body types, Waist-to-hip ratio, and other such things.  I strongly recommend looking at the wikipedia article and clicking around to the related articles. It’s interesting stuff.

Here is my picture.

Me, minus 20lbs

Deuces,

Gina

Taking the Fun out of Eating

It’s been a busy weekend, so I just want to take some time today and do some pondering and reflect on some things I thought about and learned this weekend.

Firstly, I just want to point out that my amazing boyfriend has been instrumental to me losing the weight that I have thus far. He is over quite a bit these days now that he has started Taekwondo, and having his help on the weekends is crucial. He helped me with the Great Food Purge and offered to replace the food in my fridge. Also, now that we go out to eat MUCH less than we used to, he’s offered to help me with my groceries too (at least till my paycheck starts up again).  He’s always there to listen, be supportive, and tell me that I look beautiful (even though I already knew that).

This weekend was an interesting one for me, mentally, and this weight loss. They’re all kind of inter-related, so instead of story-format, we might just have to number them off.

1) I realized I am still a slave to fries.

I was bored on Saturday and cajoled Anthony into going out. Before we did that, we decided to go eat. It’s not quite as easy as it could be to eat well and go out, but I knew it could be done. I really wasn’t feeling steak, though, so we decided to go to Taco Mac and get some hot wings.

Note the celery

What do they serve with hot wings? Fries.

Usually I’m pretty good about just avoiding things like fries and chips. If they’re in front of me or in my house, they will be eaten. So I don’t buy them or order them. For whatever reason, it was REALLY hard to say no this time. It was one of those situations where I had to get Anthony to say no for me, because I wasn’t strong enough. I felt pretty ashamed, and still do. I hate that feeling that food has this power over me. I mentioned this to him, and he was quick to remind me that it had only been a month and change would come. But sometimes, I really doubt it. I doubt myself.

2) Sometimes, I feel “destined” to be overweight.

This was something that I had been thinking about off-and-on over the past month or so, and I was having issues working through this feeling. It wasn’t anything really pervasive. Just sometimes, when I would lie awake at night, thinking, I would get this feeling like I was tempting fate. That, come the end of five months (when it is likely I will be Gina minus fifty pounds or somewhere around there), I would have defied this notion of who and how I was supposed to be — overweight and/or obese.

Anthony, as is usual, helped me work through this by letting me blabber. There was a mention of Theseus’ ship and other good things. I think, ultimately, what I had decided was that for all the years that I have been overweight (middle school? high school? It’s hard to tell), I spent a lot of time convincing myself that it wasn’t my fault. That X parent/adult taught me to stress-eat and Y situation had me eating poor quality food and that’s what I was used to. And Mom dying. All of these things are true, and I wouldn’t go so far as to call them “excuses,” because they are real barriers to me losing weight, and real things that I have to overcome. But thinking about these things and submitting to them over and over through the years sorta embedded this idea that I was “supposed” to be overweight, that they were things I couldn’t do anything about.

So even though I have consciously rejected those ideas, my self-defense mechanism still kicks in, I think, and makes me feel as though I am tempting fate. It is something that I will have to be conscious of.

3) Take the fun out of eating

As I mentioned, Anthony and I went out on Saturday night. Anthony had mentioned before that we should try and do stuff that doesn’t involve eating. This was our first venture into that.

Though we did go to Taco Mac, I wasn’t allowed to call that part of the evening “going out” (words are important!). Instead, it was just a separate part of the evening that happened to be that way because I didn’t want to cook. The real part of the evening was bowling!!!

Unfortunately, I was having too much fun to take pictures.

This hits on an important part of the lifestyle change that I want to elaborate and make a point to talk about. So much of my spending time with friends or Anthony or what have you involves going out to eat. It’s easy to forget that there’s a whole world of stuff to do that doesn’t involve eating! I think Anthony and I might, in future weeks, go dancing, which is fun and exercise!

It moves the fun of the experience from the food you’re eating to the things that you’re doing with the people you’re with. I think that’s a definite positive change. Too much in our lives revolves around food!

That’s it for me. This has been a word vomit post of catastrophic proportions.

Gina

The D-word

I ran across this article today while, ah, at a computer. It has inspired me, not necessarily to think about these things (which I have already done), but to post them here.

Additionally, I went to visit one of my favorite professors today (Dr. Scott, for the win!) and had a conversation with her that also lead me to some pondering and made me realize I need to share some of my thoughts here also. So here we go.

I strongly dislike the word “diet.” Diet reeks of fads, trends, and overall it’s just not a very precise word. Everyone has a diet, they just either have good ones or bad ones. Also — and this is something that my professor said — diet usually means deprivation of some kind and when you’re off the diet, you just go back to eating the way you did before.

As previously discussed, that is not how I view my weight loss. But I usually throw out the d-word because it’s what’s easiest for people to understand. But I don’t think that I’m going to do that anymore, because, again, as we’ve discussed, the way you speak about something inherently shapes how you think about it.

So, even when talking to someone who is unfamiliar with what I am trying to do, I think I am just going to say that I am “changing my relationship with food.” I want to say it this way because A) that is my ultimate goal, even if I am focused on the weight-loss portion of it right now and B) I don’t really feel like I’m on a diet per se. Even psychologically, I don’t feel, at this point, any different. Diet just has all of these weird connotations that I don’t want, don’t have, and aren’t applicable.

I am going to lose 50 pounds before my cousin’s wedding. This is true. But I am also going to fundamentally change my relationship with food. So that I control what goes into my body, rather than food controlling me (as it often has and admittedly still does).

So, anyway, on to the article. I have about seven minutes before I go to class.

The article talks about using shame and embarrassment to basically kick your ass into losing weight.

I don’t really like his approach to this. As we have talked about before, it has been my shame and embarrassment that has kept me from losing weight in the past. However, the author does mention a lot of things that I do think are good ideas and things that I have struggled to implement.

1) Tell everyone The author explains how he told everyone that he was losing weight so that the fear of that wide, public failure would keep him in line. He says that most people tell their significant other and maybe their best friend when they go on a diet, but it’s not as shocking when they give up because those people are used to seeing you fail.

My particular interpretation of this rule is this: you should tell everyone because it helps you to overcome your shame and embarrassment. It definitely helped me. The sheer publicness of this blog (I get about 200+ reads per post) lets everyone know what I’m doing. Yes, there is a certain amount of fear involved. I don’t want to let these people down. However, most of the positive contributions from making this change publicly. Most everyone knows what I’m doing. I get lots of cheers when I do well, and lots of support when I struggle. No one offers me ice cream or bread or dairy, and that is because they know what I am trying to do.

2) Pick an Extreme Diet I agree with this one, too, but again for different reasons. Coach and I talked about how people tend to half-ass things, and how they tend to fail at making good habits, because they reinforce the old ones. Me, circa five years ago: “Well, I won’t cut out chips entirely, but I’ll limit myself to the serving size.” Yeah, that went well. I think it’s also important to not pick a new way of eating that is clearly going to tempt you do cheat. Atkins was especially bad at this, because people could eat LOTS of things that were really bad for you and had similar tastes to the things that they were saying they were trying to avoid. It’s not a very far step from bacon to potato chips.

At this point, a rule-based diet has been really helpful for me. In the past, I didn’t change what I ate, I changed how much of it I ate. Which for some, it works. But the rigid structure of these things I can eat and these things I can’t has been really helpful in keeping me at it. Structure is good, rules are good, and it’s been easier to stay inside the lines.

3) Set a time limit, not a weight limit. I definitely agree here, though I do keep a weight goal too. I do not think I have posted it here, but I have committed myself to being full paleo until I graduate from college. It is not a “Oh, it’s the day after graduation, let me go have a party and eat ten pizzas” time limit, but rather a “my body  needs time to shift the way it’s used to eating. I’m gonna give it that time,” regardless as to whether or not I get to 135 before May 8.  It goes along with the “I’m not on a diet, I’m changing my relationship with food” idea. Additionally, as I approach that timeline, I can take on the project of trying to understand how I can re-implement “bad” foods into my diet carefully so that they don’t overwhelm me. If I even want to at that point.

Also, like the author says, time limits are easier to hold to. They are concrete and they keep going. If you set a weight goal and you bounce up five pounds, you’ve distanced yourself even further and become discouraged. But time marches on, and every day, every second, you are closer to your goal, and that’s much easier to manage.

 

I have some more meta-dieting thoughts, but if I don’t sign off soon I’m gonna be late for class.

Deuces,

Gina