Week 1: Crawling

When the New Year arrived, I pretty much felt like I was ready to do this thing.

I had done a bit of reading on paleo, and it seemed that the first week of a change in diet was always the easiest and hardest for folks. Easiest, because they were motivated, their will power was generally high, and they were prepared. Hardest, because they were breaking old habits and fighting cravings.

Stage 1: Gotta start somewhere!

In giving this paleo thing a try, I was fortunate. I don’t have a sweet tooth, so giving up sugar was easy. My biggest vice was soda, and that was easy enough to give up — instead of a Coke, I grab water or an unsweetened tea.

Dairy? I’m not a big cheese/milk kind of guy. Giving this up wasn’t especially difficult, mainly because I really didn’t have it a lot in the first place.

The other stuff, well, that’s a different story. I love me some bread. And pasta. And rice. And corn. And black beans. And burritos with rice and black bean and corn salsa. You get the idea. But, even though paleo is a basically a lifestyle (not a quickie diet), I am only committing myself to a 30-day trial run. If I hate it, I can go back to the drawing board and try something else.

So, here’s what I was thinking as I went into this:

EXPECTATIONS: None. And when I say this, it’s because some people go into a change like this and expect immediate and drastic results. I am not. I figure I will drop a few pounds (like 2, maybe 3) in the first week, and that will be it. But if it’s more or less, I really don’t care. The road to better health is a marathon, not a sprint.

Also, I have to factor in a learning curve. I’m going to make bad decisions, but I’m cool with that. I’m looking for a solid start — that’s it.

GOALS: Honestly, in this first week, my only goal is to get through it.

You gotta walk before you can run, and you gotta crawl before you can walk. I’m in the crawl stage. But in long-range terms, yeah, I have goals (and they are with or without paleo). Among them: I want to be as light yet as strong as possible going into mountain biking season, which usually starts some time in late March for me. Longer-term goals, I want my 34″ waist jeans to fit a little loosely by September.

I don’t have a specific weight goal, because weight is arbitrary. Two people can be the same height and the same weight, and have drastically different bodies. I go by how my clothes are fitting, and how I’m feeling.

EXERCISE: None this week … mainly because the gym is still packed with college, high school and resolutioner folks. I’ll wait a week for the herd to thin before I go.

CHEATS: I did have a few cheats this week, but nothing huge. Breading on chicken is a big one. Had some General Tso’s … gonna have to try and order it “naked” next time (even though, technically, there’s corn starch in the sauce). Had meals at Eat n Park and Chili’s, and chicken was breaded there, too. Plus, that stuff is processed all to hell — but that’s the price you pay for eating out at chain restaurants.

OBSERVATIONS: Honestly, this first week wasn’t bad at all. I wanted bread — because sometimes it feels weird eating a burger or some sausage without it. But that’s just breaking the cycle of what I am used to … no big deal.

The main thing that was weird for me was the feeling after I eat. I’m full, but I feel like something is missing … like there’s an empty spot still in my stomach. I figure it’s because I’m used to my body bloating out when I eat grains — especially rice — so it’s weird NOT feeling it. That feeling is taking some getting used to, because I want more food, yet I don’t want food. It’s kinda confusing.

The unexpected? Well, four things:

  1. I no longer want to nap/feel tired after I eat. That is different. I’m done eating, and I’m ready to get back to my day. I have no desire to lay down and let things digest.
  2. My energy levels are a lot higher … and by a lot, I mean A LOT. I no longer need to nap before work, which makes me more productive.
  3. That nagging, leftover pain from my mountain bike crash disappeared on the third day of eating paleo. I found this odd, because I always figured something in my back was still out of whack, which was causing the pain. At my last chiro visit, the doc didn’t really do a lot, even though the specific reason I was there was due to that nagging pain. I said to him, “I guess this pain is something I’m just gonna have to live with…” He simply said, “Well, possibly.”
  4. The “mind fog” that was mentioned in the book lifted around the 5th day for me. I feel more alert, and overall just more “with it.”

RESULTS: Weigh in came in at 211.5. Lost 5 lbs in 7 days … not too shabby!

Now, technically, I’ve been weighing myself daily, just for curiosity’s sake. On Sunday, I hit 209.2, then on Monday, 212.6 (after 2 cheat meals: Eat n Park for lunch AND having General Tso’s that night). So, I’m not putting a lot of faith in the scale, per se.

I’m figuring 2 things happened with that bounceback:

  1. I shed that holiday weight that came from eating a lot of sugar (I was a total cookie monster). Easy come, easy go.
  2. That “gain” came because my body thinks I’m shedding weight too quickly. It happens. It’s normal. I’m not concerned. Gonna just stay the course.

I think the next 2 weeks will be more telling, as the holiday weight is now off, and I started back to the gym on Monday. It’s almost like I should consider 212 lbs as my starting point, weight-wise.

OVERALL:  I like having more energy and more focus. I like feeling leaner. Not having that nagging pain in my hip and back is a godsend. That alone is worth me eating paleo for the rest of my life.

I’m pretty certain I can stick to this. It’s easy. It just requires planning and time management in order to make the meals. Cost wise, it’s about the same as I was spending on eating out — and if I did an analysis, it’s probably a little less. Bear in mind, I’m NOT doing all the grass-fed meats as the only place I could get that stuff is 20+ miles away. I do have a local market that I’ve been raiding for fresh veges, which is great. Maybe in the future I’ll start raiding Trader Joe’s — but for now, no.


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