Day 3 of week 2

So this particular diet that I’m on is basically a Paleo diet, based on the diet of our hunter/gatherer ancestors, which means eating lean meats, fish, seeds, greens and fruits. It means going back to a period in time when agriculture didn’t exist.

A lot of people don’t believe that this is a healthy diet. They argue that our hunter/gatherer forebears lived short lives. Actually this isn’t true. Anthropologists have found that these ancestors who lived 5000 – 100,000 years ago, actually were very healthy. They had no cavities in their teeth, their bone density was very good and they experienced little to no health issues or infant mortality rates. This compared to our ancestors who began growing their own foods and especially began to eat wheat, corn and beans, and who lived shorter lives, had more health issues and whose infants died more frequently.

I am also as surprised as anyone to find this out, because this is not what science or biology has told us. They make the agricultural revolution out to be the best thing since sliced bread (pun intended). Of course, the agricultural revolution did allow quite a few things to happen. Because more food was being produced by these farmers (and not every family member of each family needed to take so much of their time to forage for food) and because they stayed in one place rather than moving with migrating animals and where foods were growing in the wild according to the seasons, culture and education happened. Of course, this was probably meant to happen. We were supposed to figure out a way to maximize our brains and artistic qualities.

But the other truth is that we became less healthy. Think about the dark ages and all this time up from about the 12th century. People didn’t live long at all. All kinds of diseases occurred and wiped us out multiple times and killed our children due to lack of good nutrition (children weren’t breast-fed as much as the hunter/gatherer children were). It also turns out that h/g people did have lots of free time, as they spent only 10% of their day involved in hunting and gathering food. The rest of the time they spent with their families.

I figure it happened this way: After agriculture — and with it education and science and all these other developments — our economic system changed entirely. It became all about individual families rather than groups of families and those individual families rivaled with each other. They wanted more (power, food, position, influence, comfort, etc) and everyone else followed suit. It became a society in which those who provided the food were more poor than those who bought the food. But those who bought the food now had to work extra hard to earn funds to buy. They were in stable homes that had to be built and maintained. They had to show off their status with all kinds of possessions, making them have to work even harder at getting funds. Etc. This led to eating less and less healthy, living stressful and less healthy lives doing either hard physical labor or perhaps sitting for long periods of time as they used their brains to study a situation and find solutions to problems.

Anyway, the whole point is that an agricultural diet, based on the things we grow in mass quantities to feed thousands of people at a time, is not necessarily the most healthy diet. It is based on that switch from foraging to staying in one place where we are sure to always find food. Still, this isn’t the reason why this diet isn’t healthy. The reason this diet isn’t healthy is because of the kinds of foods agriculture provides: heavy grains, heavy carbs, beans, rice, and dairy-related products. They are hard to digest foods and some foods, such as dairy, were never intended for human consumption. Milk is meant for raising infants. After you’re an infant, your body doesn’t need milk. Our bodies can’t handle processing milk which is why so many people are lactose intolerant. Our bodies are refusing to process that stuff.

You might argue, “but gardens and farms also provide fruits and vegetables and those ARE very healthy foods and are included in the Paleo diet.” But if you look at food in the wild, those items (fruits and vegetables) are not necessarily abundant in all areas of the world without us cultivating them. They are only in scarce quantities in the wild and Paleo ancestors did not eat them very often. Yet, they were very healthy people.

Also, eating foods grown by agriculture requires eating a lot of processed foods and products that contain unhealthy ingredients. Bread is very healthy, if it is made hundreds of years ago before science and bio-engineering came into it. Then bread evolved and now we eat bread that is hardly healthy at all, what with all the additives and modifications to the ingredients. The same with pasta and other products. And if you look at processed foods in the dairy and cereal and pasta/rice aisles, all of them contain corn starch or sugars or other ingredients to keep them perish-resistant. Whereas the Paleo diet is “whole foods” that have never been created in labs. They are right out of nature the way the Earth intended: fish, meat, fruits and vegetables that have not been processed and put in a can or packaged with tons of other ingredients. Just those foods plain. Just make sure it’s in its most healthful and wildest form (organic, free-range, grass-fed, wild caught, etc).

So the idea of the Paleo diet is to eat much like the Paleo ancestors and of course in our modern society we do not need to hunt or gather in order to find these same products. We can now go to the store and pick out our fish and meat and eggs and fruits, veggies and nuts. In fact, it’s extremely easy to shop for Paleo type foods: just stay on the outside aisles of the store. Don’t go down any of the middle aisles unless you want mustard, or olives, or some specific spice or condiment. So that’s what I’ve been doing the past two weeks. I took all the grain/rice/bean-related products out of my cabinets (two whole big bags full) and went to the store to get some veggies, meat, healthy oils (coconut oil and olive oil) and berries.

Check out my nutrition logs to see what I’ve been eating and it’s all been tasty and healthy. Yes, I do cheat a bit with some of the milk-based products (yogurt and cream) but for the most part I’ve stayed away from them. I have eaten NO grain-based foods, or rice or beans (well, a bit of hummus). I have eaten little to no man-made sugar (except where it existed in the yogurt, as well as in a small square of dark chocolate every now and then). I have only drunk two alcohol with soda drinks in the past 10 days. I have worked out every single day for the past 10 days and am sore to prove it. I have prepared my meals ahead of time so that I’m not scrambling to find things to eat. I have designed recipes and written them down to share with others or in order to recreate them if I ended up really liking them. I have not used a cookbook yet or gotten recipes from others, although I know they are out there. For the most part, I have not felt deprived. I am hungry in the early mornings, but that quickly goes away. If I can’t stand the hunger, I drink a smoothie or some coffee.

I am reading a book I just got from the library on this diet “The Paleo Solution: The Original Human Diet” by Robb Wolf, and it claims if you follow it for at least 30 days, you will notice a huge change in your health. I already feel much cleaner on my insides, I don’t go to the bathroom as often and when I do, much less comes out the other end. I have not been gassy for all of those 10 days (which I am almost every day on my normal diet).

The workouts are hard, I’m not denying that, but I’m proud of what I have accomplished and know that I will do even better over time. The book says that you will actually increase muscle and tone down to very low bmi (fat per body mass index). Seeing the photos of those who have done both the change in nutrition and the exercises is encouraging. I am very hopeful that this will be the case for me too. I’ll be happy to shed the jiggle around my hips and butt and thighs and find that my outline has slimmed down and that I can fit into clothes that I haven’t fit in for years. I was shocked when I tried on my wedding dress 10 days ago. My wedding was 13 years ago yesterday. It barely was able to close. When I wore it for my wedding, I wore a corset under it that was actually kind of heavy-weight, and the dress was still quite lose. It’s a sheathe-style dress, so is meant to fit quite snug. It fits WAY too snug right now. Perhaps at the end of the 8 weeks I can try it on again and see how it fits then.

The other reason for me doing this whole 8 week program is that I am hoping it will address some of the resistance I have felt in other areas of my life, such as dating again, writing, getting my life at home more organized, etc. This workout program requires that I stick with it, day in and day out. That I make it a part of my life. That I am constantly aware of the things I am doing in regards to food. That I go to bed early enough to get up early enough each day. That I really don’t listen to the voices in my head saying I should give up or I just can’t do it.

I read an encouraging thing in the book today about a woman who could only do 1 pull up when she first started and then after 6 months was doing pull ups no problem and she went from dress size 14 to a 2. I know I’m doing pretty good with my size (I’m about a 6 or a 8 most of the time, depending on the clothing store). I am not that heavy (under 140 at the moment) and most of my life I was at 115 to 125, so I likely won’t have to lose a ton of weight, if that is my ideal weight. It may also be that I will gain muscle mass with the workout, so losing the pounds is less important to me than it is losing the fat and looking toned. That’s the part I’m looking forward to the most. I tell people about what I’m doing too. About wanting to eat healthier. They accept that and I don’t bring up the wanting to lose weight thing, because they all say the same thing: you don’t need to lose weight. I might not look it. But I need to lose fat. And I want to gain strength.

I’m feeling much more positive about myself in these past 10 days and am actually having a good time doing this. I’m recording the meals I designed and what I purchase at the store and each Sunday I am video-recording myself and talking about the experience so far. Last Sunday I had only lost 1.5 lbs. But that’s 1.5 pounds! It’s still a loss. And I am feeling so much better. It’s difficult to explain just how better I feel, because it’s both an emotional improvement as well as a physical improvement I feel. I feel upbeat.