I have always had a struggle of one sort or another with my weight. Hitting middle age and feeling my metabolism slow down hasn’t helped much. But finding something that works and works consistently over a long period is difficult. Some diets require a ridiculous amount of measuring, counting and otherwise tracking everything you do, to the point it becomes like another job. Others demonize one food or another. Being naturally skeptical, none of these things made sense to me for very long.
Last fall, I started working out with a trainer and have now completed two half-marathons. I’ve lost 25 lbs and over 20 inches, and I’m much more fit than ever before. But my weight seems frozen and has been bouncing in a three to five pound range for the past several months. I’ve been getting frustrated. I know that focusing on diet is where the next stage is, but how do I do this an not drive myself crazy at the same time?
My friend, Julien Smith, has been on the Caveman or Paleo diet, and recommended giving it a try. It can most easily be summed up with two rules, No Sugar, No Grain. What’s so great about this is that it’s simple, easy to remember, and there’s very little gray area to contend with. Julien also has a cheat day or cheat meal where you can do whatever once a week, allowing some flexibility and keeping you from avoiding things we all like, like chocolate and potatoes. So I’ve given it a whirl, and in less than a week, I’ve dropped 4.5 pounds already.
At the bookstore today, I picked up The Primal Blueprint, basically talking about the primal/paleo diet, and Jillian Michael’s Master your Metabolism, talking about how the way to master your weight and bosy issues is through controlling your hormones. At the heart of it, both of their recommendations can be summed up easily as a nuanced version of the same two rules- No Grains, No Sugar.
Why would this work?
If you look at all of the most popular diet plans that “work”, they all may have one piece of the puzzle. Atkins says no carbs. But the lack of fiber could be bad for you digestive system. With paleo, you add plenty of fruits and beg into the picture, delivering more nutrients and bulk into the diet. Add fish or flaxseed, and you get plenty of Omega -3 into the diet which helps with anti-inflammatory response, and flaxseed helps ease digestion.
By avoiding all grains and flour, you avoid processed foods and additives. Adding more nuts and seeds adds all those great monounsaturated fats and fiber into the diet. Fruits and veggies adds plenty of bulk into your diet, taste great, and gets at all that “close to the ground/natural eating” style people recommend in the Eat Clean, Mediterranean, and even Weight Watchers recommends.
By reducing carbs, you may lose additional water weight, since carbs hold onto water in your system. So as long as you drink enough, and this can be dictated largely by thirst, your body should be able to find a decent balance here as well.
I’m going to continue on this general plan, allowing for one cheat day/meal a week for a month, and I’ll give you updates here, even though this may seem a little against the usual grain of what I write about. In general, the plan makes sense if you believe that traditional diet plans all get part of the story right but probably not all of it; that there’s some truth in all of the traditional diet wisdom out there, but getting it down to something doable always seems complicated; and that simple is just easier to do than complicated and nuanced. So for the next thirty days, I am a “no grains, no sugar” girl, and we’ll see where it takes me.