In January of this year, I started changing my diet. I counted calories and tried to reduce the number of calories I ate and increase the number of fruits and vegetables I ate. This had little to no effect on my weight loss. I’d been Crossfitting since May, and other than the first initial weight loss of 40 pounds, I’d been in a plateau since October. The seasonal foods of November and December did not help, of course.
I gave the calorie diet a shot for over four months. My husband loses weight simply in comparison to me, and this diet worked very well for him. However, for whatever reason, this had little to no effect on me. I’d be excited about 3 pounds lost one week, to have them plus a friend back the following week. It was seriously annoying.
I’d played around with the Paleo diet before, but was convinced that since I couldn’t get grass fed beef that the diet would be out of my reach. Ah, excuses, they are endless and somewhat ridiculous in hindsight. However, through a friend of mine, I started reading Nerd Fitness, Mark’s Daily Apple, and a few other Paleo/primal blogs. Apparently, grass fed beef is ideal, but you could still eat beef even if it wasn’t grass fed. There were lots of good ideas, recipes or links to recipes, and advice in these blogs. I did my total information submersion in these various blogs for about a week and then made the switch.
On April 24, I implemented this diet. The first two weeks sucked. A lot. I had no idea how much processed food and sugar had a hold of my system. I knew that kicking the sugar habit was going to be a hard one, but since I’d been counting calories I figured that I mainly did not feed my sweet tooth very much at all anymore. Well, that was wrong. They sneak sugar into everything! My 80 calorie yogurt was one that surprised me. I mainly got through the first two weeks by eating lots of apples and meat and veggies, but had zero weight loss the first two weeks.
Apparently, the sugar in fruit is enough to keep you the same weight, especially if you are having 3-5 apples a day. I was mainly going for easy, portable, and tasty. Once I went down to just one or two pieces of fruit (AN apple, a kiwi, singular not plural) it was like the pounds magically melted off. I force myself to look at the scale merely once a week. I want to look at it every day, compulsively, but that is a way to Crazy Town. Once I am more comfortable in what I am doing and how I am eating, I am going to wean myself further off of the scale – once every two weeks, once a month, etc.
More than the weight loss, what I noticed after the first two weeks was that I was happier. As someone who has battled depression this was also somewhat miraculous. I am just happy for no particular reason. Normally, I have to work to find reasons to be happy. It has become second nature to think of things that make me happy so that I thus become happy – an exercise I started in high school when the depression first manifested. Now, I am just happy. Life still has its nasty surprises that sometimes cause a bit of a kick, but fundamentally, I am pleased with life and the world in general. Ask any of my friends who have known me longer than a few years and they will tell you that the reverse used to be true.
In a long habit of looking gift horses in the mouth, I started to wonder, What if I had been going to yoga twice a week, attempting to jog three times a week, Crossfit three times a week, AND done Paleo back when I started Crossfit in May of 2011? Well, the answer is not that I would be a svelte 100 pounds lighter, but rather that my head would have probably exploded. I had to integrate each step along the way into my schedule, into a habit that was not changing, into my person and identity. Too much change too fast either causes total change failure or a complete identity crisis.
Recently, Nerd Fitness published a blog entry about easing into change. Taking it a step at a time. It is a pretty good read that made me feel like my step by step approach (Crossfit, then yoga, then diet, then jogging, then a different diet) actually was the right way to go about things. I wasn’t dragging my feet but simply building momentum.
Feel free to read what they have to say about building habits. It is a pretty good read and even includes Inspiring Stories! Basically, as long as you making steps forward, even if they are baby steps forward, you are making progress.