Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Primalizing My Life

I don't know what pushed me to make the change; in retrospect it feels like a snap decision along the lines of 'Well, why the heck not?' While it is unfortunate that many of my life decisions are made this way, this particular choice has been the most interesting and beneficial (so far).

What am I talking about? I went primal. As of now, it's been two weeks and in three weeks I will finish my 30 day experiment. Perhaps I'll continue with it. Essentially, I've changed the way I eat and the way I move. Since talking about the paleolithic or primal lifestyle eventually comes down to it, here is the food rundown:

1. I no longer eat grains. Breads, pastas, oatmeal, etc.
2. I've cut out sugar and more importantly, high fructose corn syrup. Most of the sugar in my pre-primal diet came from bread and pasta, it has to be admitted. I was never a sweet tooth.
3. Processed foods are out! If the nutrition label list is longer than five natural ingredients, it's probably too processed to eat.
4. No more corn or corn products. (It's a grain, but I thought it deserved its own bullet). Corn is in practically everything nowadays and though it's been a bit difficult to avoid it, I think I've been better off.

What I have been eating:

1. Vegetables! I'm rediscovering the plant world one vegetable at a time. First it was salad greens, then it spread to nightshades, and this week it seems to be avocados (or is avocado a fruit? lol).

2. Meat! I wasn't really a big meat-eater before, passing it up in favor of grains more often than not, so I'm also experiencing some new things with meat. For example, at one of our favorite restaurants I recently ordered the prime rib 90z steak instead of my normal grilled sandwich. It happened to be a delicious decision.

3. Fat! Everyone is so afraid of fat, myself included. This has been the hardest thing to swallow--that I need more fat in my diet. I've come to understand that it should come from healthy sources, however, like avocados and olive oil, coconut products, meat. Frying my eggs in bacon grease drove against the grain, but I did it anyway (and it was delicious.

4. Dairy! Well, in limited amounts. I sprinkle cheese here and there and that's about it.

5. Water! And more of it.

So why am I eating like this? At first, I couldn't tell you for sure. I stumbled across Mark's Daily Apple through a random link on the interwebs and just casually read up on what it meant to be primal; a different outlook on food and a relaxed but fun exercise regime. He claimed that being primal had a myriad of benefits; losing weight, getting toned and fit, improved health, happier life. It sounded a bit like he was selling snake oil, to be honest. I thought to myself that nothing that easy could do that much. He was giving out so much information for free though that I kept reading. In fact, after a while I realized there wasn't anything he left out for his book... it was all available on this website for free. This guy must really believe in it, I thought.

In due course, I came across his 30 day challenge. Try it for 30 days and see how your life is different. I laughed. The idea of being able to stick to something for 30 days? I'd fall off the wagon in three. But then that idea wouldn't go away. I kept going back to Mark's website and rereading about the primal lifestyle. Finally, I realized I either had to try it or never go back.

So on August 8th, I went primal. I went through my private stash of food and threw out or gave away my processed meals and breads and pastas. I winced a little bit when I handed over my new packages of toaster strudels and goldfish crackers, but I knew I had to be serious about it if I wanted to last thirty freaking days.

I bought nuts, meat, vegetables at the store and brought it home. I spread it all out and asked, "Now what?" I was so used to convenience food that I didn't know how to prepare any of it. It was a sad reminder of how dependent I am on others for food. It gave me new drive to teach myself to live better, to be able to feed myself from scratch.

Fast forward two weeks-- I'm doing better. I had some issues at first with giving up soymilk and I'm pretty sure I had a carb withdrawal on the third day of eating primal, but I've noticed many improvements already.

1. I've lost ten pounds. This in itself is amazing, especially for two measly weeks.
2. I had a marked increase in overall energy that first week after my carb withdrawal (called the carb flu). I had so much energy that I actually had a hard time sleeping sometimes. Now it's leveled out to a reasonable level, thank goodness.
3. I don't know that my health has gotten better since I haven't been able to afford a doctor checkup for a couple years, but I know that I feel better for some reason. Like a mist I didn't realize was there has disappeared from my vision. It's an odd feeling.
4. My tastebuds are changing. Instead of craving toaster strudels, I crave chicken and avocado or bacon and feta. Tonight the missionaries brought over cookies and they sat out on the counter in front of me for hours. They looked delicious, but instead I wanted bedtime blueberries They were delicious by the way.

So now, I have less than three weeks to go on this 30 day experiment, and I'm excited to see what's at the end of the tunnel for me. Maybe it's the not-so-snap decision to go even deeper into the primal lifestyle.


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