Why I Started Eating Paleo
My long-standing love affair with processed carbs (hello pasta) and high-sugar dairy (hello ice cream) has been toxic, to say the least. Passionate? Definitely. Damaging? You bet. It wasn’t a surprise to me when my excellent naturopathic doctor recommended that I start eating Paleo to target my persistent acne and fatigue.
My doctor diagnosed me with two different harmful bacteria in my small intestine. She prescribed me with twice a day dosages of raw ginger, raw garlic, ginger tea, and the Paleo diet.
The Paleo diet is so named because of its premise to eat similarly to our ancestors during the Paleolithic Era. During that prehistoric period, humans mainly had access to fresh meat, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and some oils. While there is some give and take between Paleo purists and more relaxed Paleo people, the gist is simple. Eat whole foods. Avoid everything else.
I recorded this journal over the first eight weeks of my Paleo journey, hoping that it would be helpful to my readers. I’ve also included my progress photos for nearly every week. I will briefly discuss my fitness routine at the end of the post, in case it is of interest to you.
It’s Not About the Scale
During this process, I did not weigh myself – not once. For me, a number on a scale has nothing to do with my energy levels, my fitness, and how I feel in my own skin. To this day, I don’t know what I weigh exactly! But leaving the scale behind was so freeing throughout my journey to build a healthier lifestyle. So if you’re looking for number of pounds lost, you won’t find it here, but I think the pictures speak for themselves!
Week 1: Jump Start
It had to be a start now moment. The minute I got off the phone with my naturopathic doctor, I knew the change had to start immediately. Making elaborate menu schedules and grocery lists for “next week” is my specialty. Actually sticking to the hyped-up, overly detailed eating plan is a different story! We jumped in the car and went grocery shopping, and I haven’t really looked back since!
Even just a few days in, I feel amazing. My body feels lighter, and the ginger and garlic have practically eradicated any bloating. My system is still getting used to paleo foods, so I’m eating ALL the time, but I’m giving myself grace for that. Step by step, little by little. It’s about building a lifestyle, not fad dieting.
I began my BodyBoss program yet again this week. I completed all the workouts, and I’m proud of that! Looking forward to the progress I will make in the coming months!
Week 2: My Paleo Kitchen
I’m thanking my lucky stars for quarantine because I don’t know if I would be staying on track without it! It’s so easy to eat right when I’m home all the time and can get into a routine! I’m having a lot of fun trying new recipes, and garlic-seared broccoli is my new favorite thing on this planet (behind watermelon, of course).
Speaking of watermelon, I’m eating it in SPADES. It’s watermelon season here in Nicaragua, and I simply can’t get enough. I probably go through half a melon a day, and sometimes more. The natural sugar is excellent for staving my cravings, and all the water has been flushing me out (constantly!).
I’m still staying on par with my workouts. I’m actually excited to do my workouts in the morning, and I love the feeling of having it done by 9 am! BodyBoss has been kicking my ass but in the best possible way. I’m already seeing significant changes in my body and am so pumped for how I’ll feel in a few more weeks!
Week 3: Paleo Energy Boost
I’m trying out more recipes than ever and getting really creative in the kitchen. This week I made cauliflower mashed potatoes with salmon and Paleo butter chicken. I created the sauce completely out of carrot puree. My boyfriend couldn’t tell the difference between it and my usual butter chicken sauce!
To be honest, there haven’t been too many foods I’ve missed. That’s probably thanks to being at home practically all of the time! I did a little research and discovered that many Paleo followers drink wine, which was a huge relief! It’s so relaxing to treat myself to a glass of wine in the evenings to wind down. Eating paleo isn’t so tricky after all!
My energy levels are still high. I often struggle with insomnia, but I’ve been sleeping better lately, which is fantastic. My boyfriend says he sees an enormous difference in my physical appearance as well as my energy. My skin has been clearer on my face, but I have this awful outbreak on the back of my neck. It’s such an enormous outbreak that it makes it difficult to move my head too much. I guess that’s the bacteria releasing harmful toxins, right? Gotta stay positive.
Week 4: All About Balance
Today I was able to walk/run a full mile as a WARMUP to my super intense HIIT program. Wow! I now pop right out of bed the minute my alarm goes off. I still drink a cup of coffee before my classes, but I don’t feel as desperate for it as before. (I teach early morning English classes online with VIPKID.) My ginger tea is my new favorite drink in the morning.
I still have not weighed myself, but I see differences in my body in the mirror. My arms are slimmer. My face is smoother on most days. I know that killing the bacteria in my system is still causing toxins to release through my skin, so I try not to get discouraged about that. I had a craving for non-paleo food over the weekend, and my boyfriend reminded me that this is a marathon and not a sprint. It had been four weeks full paleo, and it was okay to reward myself.
I was apprehensive, mostly because when I start rewarding myself, it’s difficult to stop. I was uncertain that I could eat a “cheat” meal and not ruin all of my progress.
But guess what? I did it! I ate some tacos and nachos, stopped when I was full, and that was it! In the morning, I happily returned to my banana and almond breakfast bowl and my ginger tea. Today is Monday, and I haven’t had a craving since Saturday! Self-discipline is such a freeing ability, and I’m so grateful to be learning it.
Week 5: Rough Week
Holy fatigue, Batman! I have barely been able to accomplish anything but my daily workouts this week due to being exhausted ALL THE TIME. I wrote my natural medicine doctor asking if I should be experiencing this level of fatigue due to the detox happening in my body.
Here towards the end of the week, I’ve gotten my mojo back. I felt better on Friday, rested most of the day on Saturday, and got an extra workout in on Sunday. I did have pasta with creamy garlic sauce on Saturday. It was good, but I had no desire to go overboard and continue eating processed carbs. To be honest, I probably would have enjoyed salmon and broccoli just as much, if not more.
However, I’m glad to eat non-paleo once or twice a week. It’s proven that I can have balance, and there’s room for indulgence in my healthy lifestyle. I tend to be an all-or-nothing type of person, and I put off eating non-paleo for three weeks because I was terrified of going off the rails. But I didn’t! I enjoyed my meal, and then it was over. It felt so powerful to not give in to binging and a lack of self-control. I faced temptation, and I overcame it.
I had an awful day on Saturday. After spending several hours on Pinterest and TikTok, I was flooded with negative feelings about my body. I was filled with anger that I have let myself be unhappy for so long, and then doubt that I would ever achieve the body type I want. My sweet boyfriend gave me several pep talks and reminded me of all I’ve accomplished in a short amount of time. He told me that it’s a journey, and it takes time.
Week 6: Paleo Portion Power
It’s week six, babes! I can’t believe it. Time really flies when you’re in quarantine, I suppose. Today I’m able to fold over the top of my yoga pants from my waist to my hips, and there’s no muffin top. I can’t remember the last time that was the case.
My portion sizes are smaller. Yesterday I split what I used to eat for one meal into lunch and dinner, and I was full at both meals. My body doesn’t need as much to fill itself because quality over quantity, hey? It’s nice not to be hungry all the time.
I spoke with my natural medicine doctor about my fatigue and returning skin issues. She informed me that it is quite natural to experience severe fatigue while in the detox process. Dr. Quinn also told me to be patient with my skin, and that healing my skin is a long-term process.
Week 7: Gross Food Makes You Feel Gross
My fatigue has gone away for the most part. I fully expect it to return and am prepared to push myself through.
But most days, I’m feeling great! I have a healthy amount of energy and am smashing through my BodyBoss program. This weekend, I overdid it a bit on the non-paleo foods. But do you know what I discovered? I didn’t like the way those foods made me feel after I ate them! I truly felt grossly full, lethargic, and craving more. It wasn’t a nice feeling, and it turned me off to eating dense, fatty foods. What a win! I’m so proud of my body for adapting to foods that are good for it and for signaling to my brain that this wasn’t the best choice.
My skin still looks pretty clear on most days, and I don’t feel the need to apply foundation or concealer. That’s amazing!
Week 8: Success!
We had to move to a new apartment this week, and that just about threw me off my groove! Luckily, I have created good habits for the last seven weeks, and I was able to keep myself on track. I felt really disoriented in the new place for several days and was way too tired to work out (an excuse, I know).
The great news is that my favorite cafe is a few blocks away. This means I can order my favorite mango orange smoothie or almond milk cold brew latte any day I feel like it!
Eating Paleo: My Reflections
As I reflect on the journey of the last eight weeks, I’m incredibly proud of taking my health seriously – perhaps for the first time in my life. I’ve learned that there’s always going to be another opportunity to eat crappy food, so there’s no reason to have a feast or famine mentality. I can make positive changes in my life if I set my mind to it, and I can stick with those changes because of self-discipline.
The eight weeks are over, but my journey with eating Paleo has just begun. I intend to continue eating Paleo (90/10) with a little room for other foods once in a while. It’s not just the best choice for my skin, energy levels, and weight loss. Paleo is the best choice for my self-esteem, my health mindset, and my productivity.
I hope to share with you some of my favorite Paleo recipes soon! They are seriously delicious.
A Note on Fitness
As I mention a few times in my journal, I follow a High-Intensity Interval Training program called BodyBoss.
BodyBoss costs $50 for their Ultimate 12 Week Guide, and it’s worth every penny of the one-time payment.
Check out my other health and nutrition content!