Here we go, paleo
The Aspen Princess
If you would’ve told me I’d end up on some caveman diet, I’d probably say something obnoxious like, “I’d rather eat lint than have to give up pretzels and beer.” But last on Feb. 12, I began a six-week-long paleo challenge.
Here’s the thing: I’m in my mid-40s, when there is no longer a “lose weight fast” option. I gained what I’ve come to refer to as “The Marriage 15,” on account of finding myself in that complacent comfort zone where your husband tells you he loves you just the way you are and you reply, “Great! Pass the fries.”
I’ve somehow pushed past the 130 mark on the scale, which I would consider high for my 5-foot-tall frame, and it pushes back (or up) because no matter what I do I can’t get my weight any lower than that. I can work out until the cows come home, I can do weeklong juice cleanses, I can try doing more cardio and eating fewer carbs, and I can do yoga in a hot room until I pass out, but the needle on the scale stays stubbornly put.
It’s all because of Dr. Scott Tesero, a local chiropractor who has written to me on the 400 occasions I’ve written about how fat I am and whined about how I can’t lose weight. I sought treatment from him when I developed a nasty knee tendinitis during cycling season I couldn’t shake. I joked with him that his chiropractic adjustments were “like crack” (get it?) and was amazed when, within a few sessions, my knee started feeling better.
So when I complained to Dr. Scott about my weight and he suggested I join a group paleo challenge he offers through his practice, I didn’t roll my eyes and flap my hand at him old-Jewish-grandmother-style.
Instead, I listened.
I listened for two hours when Dr. Scott and his wife, Laurel, talked about the science behind paleo, a revelation in terms of looking at the “why” and not just the promise of results. They also want to encourage a long-term lifestyle change, not just a diet.
A few eye-opening facts: Your body can’t tell the difference between a potato or table sugar when it comes to your insulin response. All carbs are sugar. Sugar is what makes you fat, not fat. Contrary to everything you’ve learned about nutrition since grade school, fat is not the enemy — in fact, it’s essential. It just has to be the right kind.
There are a lot of rules on paleo, which is something I was never very good at. There are a lot of instructions that begin with the word “no.” As in, no grains — we’re talking flour, whole grains and corn, so you can say goodbye to buttering your bread, so to speak. Even brown rice is a no-no because your body didn’t get the memo that it’s supposed to be good for you and it turns it into sugar. Speaking of sugar, you can’t have any sugar or sweeteners (maple syrup and honey in cooking are OK), which means you might as well have your sweet tooth pulled because you’re not getting any. No legumes except peas and string beans, so no beans — adios, Mexican food. Who would want to eat Mexican anyway, since dairy (yes, cheese) also is off the plate? No soy (a little soy sauce in cooking is OK), so tofu lovers are out of luck there. (Reality check: Tofu is as processed as it gets.) Oh, and no potatoes (sweet potatoes and yams are fine), so say goodbye to fries.
We’re basically talking grain-free, gluten-free and dairy-free — no more pretzels, no more pasta, no more pizza and no more beer.
I know what you’re thinking: What’s left? The short answer is: veggies, fruit, nuts, seeds and organic meat and fish. You wouldn’t believe me if I told you all the stuff you can make out of cauliflower.
Six days in, and here’s what I’ve discovered so far: I’m never hungry. The food I’m eating tastes amazing. I’m no longer bloated at the end of the day or after a meal. My digestive system is more regular (I’ll spare you the details). It’s great to have a reason to eat right. I love trying new recipes and working with new ingredients. Healthy food is f—ing expensive. I’ve already started losing weight. I’m stoked. I think this is something I can do over the long haul.
That means I can no longer live on my usual staples of pretzels, Luna Bars and soy lattes from Starbucks. No more indulging in pasta, pizza or fries just because it’s the weekend, Thursday, a hard day, a long day or a stressful day. No more beer (I love beer) or six, and worst of all, I’m finally going to have to break up with Ben & Jerry for good. (Let’s face it: It was never a healthy relationship to begin with.)
Did I mention we are allowed to drink tequila?
Now I’m enjoying the kinds of foods I used to make fun of my yoga friends for eating. Stuff like chia-seed pudding, unsweetened almond milk, fruit smoothies with hemp protein, kale chips and almost every preparation of Brussels sprouts you can think of. (Has anyone else noticed Brussels sprouts have eclipsed kale in popularity of late?)
Do I still drool when I walk by the peanut-butter-pretzel bin at Whole Foods? Yep. Can my life go on? Yes. Do I feel good? Yes. Does it feel like time is going slowly in terms of staying on this program for six weeks? Kind of. Will I stick with it? Absolutely.
So if you see me walking down Main Street drooling with the backs of my palms dragging on the ground and a dead animal over my shoulder (as opposed to lining the hood of my designer coat), you’ll know why. Goodbye, Princess — hello, cave girl.
The Princess can’t wait to rock some of her old skinny-girl wardrobe. Email your love to email@example.com.
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