So, you want to make an impact? Know this: 80% of your body will come from your diet, so  start there. Eliminate grains, corn, wheat, rice, and beans.

You’ll see results quickly, and you’ll start feeling better almost immediately. Unless you go from eating a lot of carbohydrates every day (cereal in the morning, sandwich at lunch, pasta for dinner). If that’s you, then there’s a chance you’re not going to feel well at first. And if you don’t feel well, understand that it’s perfectly normal. They call it the low carb flu, and basically your body is adjusting to your new diet. It will pass.

And then, you should exercise.

Exercise because it makes you feel good, not because you want to lose weight (we put/threw the scale away, remember?). Change your mindset. You want to be stronger, not skinnier.

Weight train, if you want. It won’t make you big. Pinky swear.

The key here is to find something you like and do it. For me, this is indoor rock climbing. I get to climb around like a monkey, gain strength, and build confidence.

You like to run? Go run. You hate it? Find something else. Go for long walks with your significant others. Pick up your bicycle.

Just move. It doesn’t have to be scary. Just get out there and start moving!

Be nice

Yes, be nice. Be nice to yourself, and your body. If you’ve decided to give this a shot, go ahead and weigh yourself.

And then put the scale away. Preferably to Goodwill, but if you’re not quite ready for that, then the tippy top shelf of your closet.

Paleo/Primal/Cave person eating is not a weight loss plan. It’s a gut health plan, and you want to heal yourself. Weight loss might come, and it might not. But in order for it to work, you have to step away from the scale, and while you’re at it, you should be stepping away from the critical mirror. You know, the one that makes you squint at yourself and pinch yourself here or there and otherwise make you miserable.

You shouldn’t be miserable. Life is ever so short, and you want to be happy and healthy as long as you’re able.

So, let’s start slowly. Decide to cut wheat, corn, rice, and potatoes. Cut legumes (they give everybody tummy trauma anyway) and cut soy. Ditch the scale.

And just breathe.

My answers to the contest

One of my favorite blogs is Mark’s Daily Apple and he recently held a contest asking for advice. I entered. Here are my answers:

  1. How do you keep costs down eating Primal? I base my diet around vegetables and add meat for flavor. This means I am often eating the same meat several days in a row, just repurposed into different meals.
  2. How often do you snack, and what do you snack on? I snack three or four times a week, and it’s usually a handful of nuts or an apple.
  3. What is the biggest change you’ve seen in your life since going Primal, and how long did it take to notice? Well, since you asked… pooping. Seven days after I eliminated grains I became regular. I went from going every six or seven days to astounding myself by going twice in one day.
  4. How do you cope with health professionals giving you advice you disagree with? I haven’t had to go to the doctor since switching my diet so it hasn’t come up.
  5. What do you do for fun/play? Cook for friends, indoor rock climbing, walking in my neighborhood.
  6. How do you find time to do lots of walking or other low-level exercise, play, relaxation, etc.? Simply by making exercise a priority. I know I feel better on days when I’m active, so I work it into my schedule.
  7. What is the most attractive feature of the Primal Blueprint to you? You, Mark! You offer a non-judgmental approach. Your stories, posts, research, recipes, how-tos, are what keep me subscribing.
  8. What does 80/20 mean to you? That ice cream and wine are just fine as occasional treats but I shouldn’t spend more than 20% of my life eating ice cream and drinking wine. That’s just too lush! It also means when I’m around friends and family I’m not hawkish about corn syrup, and I’m not a brat if someone brings mass-produced chocolate.
  9. How do you handle a spouse/partner/significant other who refuses to change their own habits, even if they quite clearly are harmful to them? Lead by example. I’m the cook, and he’s well aware that I’m not going to make something separate, so when he eats with me, he eats the way I do. Since we’ve been dating, he’s significantly reduced his grain intake, but I don’t think I have the power to change someone else. He’ll have to come to it on his own.

There were ten questions, but number two asked how my kids eat. I have no children but if I did they would of course be smart and healthy and practically perfect in every way.

It was a quick contest, and I’m in luck because he’s drawing folks randomly — so I have a shot at some of his goodies!

Enjoying the Company

My parents are about to try this Paleo thing out. Only they’re calling it something like blood sugar/sugar busters diabetes something-or-other.

Yesterday, my sister called me from the grocery store, asking about my diet.

“I want to eat like you so I can tell Mom and Dad how to do it.”

Well, hot damn!

Keeping mum about my diet, and eating differently, but quietly, has seemed to work out swimmingly.

Nobody wants to hear from their daughter/sister that they should change their diet.

But when they get to that realization all on their own, they turn to me for advice, and I’m always willing to lend an ear, or a helping hand.

“What else should I buy at the store?” Bacon.

“How long do I cook my pork roast?” Oh, I love you!

Day one of cutting sugar, again

Spire Dark & Dry

Spire Dark & Dry, so worthwhile

I did well, until the end of day three, when I went over to a friend’s house.

The culprit, this time: Dark & Dry cider, which is one of my most favorite drinks. It’s appley, it’s not too sweet, it’s from my hometown, and dang it’s delicious.

But it’s sweet.

Then the next day, I skipped candy, and chocolate, but then my friend came over, and we had roast pork. I brought out homemade steak sauce, which I remembered too late had sugar in it.

Then we drank wine.

DANG sugar is everywhere!

Small victories include: not eating ice cream, skipping chocolate-covered macadamia nuts, eating more vegetables rather than an apple.

Low point was last night, when I ate homemade strawberry jam right out of the jar.

I decided to eat it without guilt. Each spoonful was the most amazing thing ever. I enjoyed it, I savored it, and I realized that, like everything in Paleo, it’s not about guilt.

Feeling guilty about cheating makes a lot of dieters fall off the wagon and eat a whole cake.

Savoring five spoonfuls of my mom’s freezer jam?

One of life’s great pleasures.

So, I’m resetting today. But my friends are coming over for dinner, and we’ll probably drink wine.

Then, I’ll reset tomorrow.

It may take a while, but I’ll get to the point of cutting sugar completely, at least for awhile. I don’t think I can commit to the full 21 days.

The Paleo Diet

The Paleo diet is, at its core, very simple. Eat meat. Eat vegetables. Drink water. There is a lot more emphasis on what not to eat than what should be eaten.

So, here is a short list of what not to consume on a traditional Paleo diet:

  • wheat/gluten
  • oats, barley, rye, spelt
  • just about all dairy
  • soy
  • corn
  • rice
  • white potatoes
  • legumes, including peanuts
  • quinoa
  • sugar
  • sugar-like substances
  • fake sugar
  • alcohol

So, pretty much everything you have ever eaten, ever. It’s a whole new world, and it’s one people usually come to after something is going wrong in their system. Something doctors can’t pinpoint. Maybe that describes you. You’ve been to a bunch of doctors to help explain away some of your ailments that aren’t easily explained. Or you’re not to that point yet but you don’t feel as good as you should.

When you see a list like this that prohibits just about everything in your kitchen, your gut reaction (pardon the pun) is to either turn and run in the other direction, or think, “what about ____?” and you then find yourself down a wormhole of if this then that else statements that make it all seem like too much and you’re again tempted to run the other direction.

Don’t run! Stay awhile and you’ll see that it’s not so bad, it’s not so complicated, and you’ll feel better once you stop eating things that are hurting you.

Step One: Decide

You can read all the blogs, all the books, everything you could possibly get your hands on, but once you’re ready, you should set aside everything else, and just…

Valerie Hays from the cast of "Over she goes" being leapfrogged, 1937 / by Sam Hood

ready, set, go!


Or, if you prefer, get out your calendar and mark next Saturday your “30 day trial” start date.

Take this week to go through your cupboards, and donate everything on the “no” list. Or, if you live with people who aren’t joining you, then take this time to carve out some space for you in the pantry.

Then, just go. Do it. Tell your friends, or don’t. They might be supportive or they might think you’re a quack. Call it a cleanse. Lie. Tell them your doctor recommended an elimination diet to see what’s been bothering you.

Then, jump in with both feet. Ready?

Jumping in

jumping in

jumping in, via the creative commons

Figuring out why you should consider cutting grains is a very good first start. One, humans may have a hard time digesting processed food. Two, and this one really applied to me after rapidly gaining eleven pounds, eating fat is a really good way to burn fat. So, I thought, okay. I’ll try this.

I couldn’t really bring myself to do all that the Whole 9 recommends, so I modified it. Hey, it’s my body, I can do what I want, right?

So, at first, I cut:

  • wheat and all things that contain gluten
  • corn
  • rice
  • potatoes
  • legumes
  • beer

And that was pretty much all I cut. I am a lover of dairy so I didn’t want to cut it out of my diet. I also like sugar. And booze. So, I thought, if I’m going to do this, then I need to allow myself a few vices, because otherwise if I try to cut everything, then I’ll end up with two days of going for it, and a meltdown on day three, dreaming of chocolate covered bread pudding made with cornmeal or something equally crazy.

You have to know your limitations. To this day, I still drink wine, I still eat ice cream, and I still eat cheese, though not nearly as often as I used to (turns out that meat is expensive and I have a hard time buying meat and cheese at the grocery store without going over budget!).

You’ll see, elsewhere in the paleo community, that most people who write about this lifestyle are really gung-ho, and they go out hunting wild boars or hiking with jerky bars, or otherwise acting like cavemen.

If that’s your thing, awesome. But if you want to learn how to begin this diet without alienating all your friends, stick with me. I’ll show you the ropes.

My Paleo Story

It was early March 2011, and I was training for a couple of runs. Specifically, the Shamrock run near St. Patrick’s Day. I signed up for the 15K because that was the one that gave you a beer opener (the other races were a 5K and an 8K). My best friend, who lives all the way across the country, decided she would come visit then, and we could plan the trip around the race.

That sounded like a great idea, so we shared a workout calendar, and marked our runs together on Google Calendar. Training for this race would be fun!

For those of you who don’t run long distances, I am here to tell you, distance running makes you HUNGRY, and when you are capital-H hungry you overeat.

I was eating whole grain, low fat foods, and running four times a week. I should have been in the best shape of my life!

But I wasn’t. I stepped on the scale one day, and realized I had gained eleven pounds in three months.

Holy smokes.

Also! I was having some severe tummy trauma. As in “not pooping for seven days” trauma.

So, after the race, I wanted to do a cleanse. Somehow, I found myself on Whole 9′s website. They have a great voice. They say things like, “no you are wrong, this is not hard. It’s 30 days. What do you have to lose?”

I jumped in with both feet. Someone commented that if you only dabble in paleo, and you increase your fat intake without decreasing carbs, you will be sorry because you will end up fatter.

The eleven pounds came off before the Whole 30 program ended. I know because I cheated, and stepped on the scale too many times during that month.

Not only was I back to my old weight, I was pooping everyday too. Throwing out Miralax was one of the high points of 2011.

And now, here I am, over a year later, and it’s how I eat. The times where I’ve unintentionally slipped (oops that restaurant dish had soy sauce in it, didn’t it?) have resulted in tummy trauma.

It’s really not hard. Join me, will you?