On Healthy Eating and Living, Paleo Style

On Saturday Sean and I were at Winco together, standing in line as the cashier rang up our groceries. (Yes, this is the second post in a row that involves buying groceries. That’s where my head has been lately) I’ve always been judgmental when peeking at other people’s shopping choices (c’mon, like you haven’t), and the guy behind us was one of those that caused some serious eyebrow raising from me.

A couple liters of soda. Boxes of popsicles. Two containers of frosting-loaded cupcakes. Chips. And to top it all off, a couple boxes of microwavable Healthy Choice meals. Even if it was for a kid’s birthday party… OH HELL NAW.

I’ve been eating and living 90% paleo for almost 3 months now. I’ve lost something around 17lbs, and have actually been working out LESS. Less! I have more energy. I don’t have that 3pm drag like I used to. I don’t have crazy food cravings. I sleep like a rock. Overall I simply feel fantastic.

(Click to see larger image)

I’ve cut all grains (minus the occasional beer because, hey, I work for a craft brewery and get it for free), sugars, legumes and most dairy. Hardly any processed food touches my plate. I eat lots of good meats, eggs, vegetables, healthy fats (god I love avocados), a small amount of fruit and the occasional chunk of cheese. Also, a big word: BACON. Pro tip: New Seasons’ bacon is outstanding.

Sean isn’t full paleo but of course he eats whatever I cook, and he’s even felt the affects of a change in diet. Stronger, more noticeable muscle definition, and overall feeling better. He was hesitant toward the change, mainly in regard to our monthly grocery costs, but thus far it seems like we might actually be spending less. I’m planning recipes ahead of time and making bigger meals that offer more leftovers for lunches and that keep us fuller, longer.

I’ve never really eaten “poorly” to begin with. I’ve never been a soda drinker, always cooked relatively low fat meals, ate a lot of fresh produce, watched my calories, ate whole grains and black beans, avoided high fructose corn syrup, and even bragged on occasion that I hadn’t eaten meat (other than our backyard fresh eggs) for days. In terms of the Standard American Diet (ahem, SAD), I was pretty much on track. But even when I was working out 4x+ a week, I’d see some results that never really stuck around. A lot of yo-yo-ing going on.

On Halloween we had a group over and I indulged in Goldfish crackers, hummus and a couple cookies. It was the first time I had consumed more than bite or two of grains and sugars in two months. I immediately felt like shit, and felt even worse the next day. I felt like I was getting the flu and I actually felt depressed. And I’ve never been a depressed person! The affect of that seemingly small (and “normal”) binge really put things into perspective.

But this feels solid. Sustainable. I don’t feel like I’m being denied anything. I don’t have crazy cravings. My body is working so much more efficiently than it ever has before because it’s functioning as it evolved to function. And I’m more excited about it than anything else I’ve ever done. If prompted I will go off on a paleo tangent, and have talked people’s ears off on the subject (sorry Sean, dad, mom, etc…). I read multiple paleo-related blogs on a daily basis. I now own four paleo/primal based books. I know way more about how my body absorbs and processes nutrients than ever before. I’m much more mindful as to how my body feels and how I treat it in return.  It’s just that good.

Plus? All the information you really need is free online. It’s not some fad diet where a few people who invented it are making money off of copyrights and meal plans and workout regimes. There are no pyramid schemes (except for that handy dandy food pyramid up there). And it’s not so much a fad diet as it is based upon how we ate for tens of thousands of years before agriculture. If you put the entire history of homo sapiens on a football field, 99 yards would be pre-agricultural revolution, and that last yard would be the last 10,000 years since. That last yard saw us moving less, eating more grains, and starting to consume sugars. The last inch or less is our more recent, much more sedentary lifestyle stuffed with an ever increasing amount of processed foods and carbohydrates. Then people wonder why are so many people obese. But here I go on tangents again…

If you’re intrigued and want to learn more, here are a few helpful links.
Nerd Fitness and its very approachable Beginners’ Guide to the Paleo Diet
Definitive Guide to the Primal Blueprint, from the ever-so-wise Mark Sisson
Also from Mark Sisson, the Primal Eating Plan
Robb Wolf’s FAQ on Paleo


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4 Responses to “On Healthy Eating and Living, Paleo Style”

  1. Christa Carr Says:

    how do you feel about the dairy sitch? we have totally cut it out of our diet. and while i don’t crave many of the foods i loved so much, i do find myself wanting dairy from time to time. what dairy have you kept in your diet?

  2. madamvonsassypants Says:

    There’s a lot of debate about this in the paleo/primal community. I finally decided to go minimal with dairy. I cook with butter on occasion and have a chunk of cheese every now and then. Oh, and if I get coffee from a cafe or whatever (which isn’t very often), I’ll get an Americano with heavy cream. Out of all of those, I would be very hard pressed to ditch the cheese.

  3. CARL Says:

    Hi, very interesting read. Could you elaborate a little more on your exact workout routine? How many times a week, for how long, what kind of workout …if you don’t mind. Thanks.


  4. madamvonsassypants Says:

    Thanks! My workout routine has varied a lot lately as I’ve been experimenting with results. I seem to be in a bit of a plateau right now so I’m trying to burn through that.

    In a week I do at least one or two interval circuit sessions, using either weights or simply body weight. Sometimes this is at home using a DVD or a workout my coach of a fiance prescribes, sometimes it’s metabolic circuit training at his jiu jitsu gym, and we just started Cross Fit, which is very popular in the paleo community.

    I love yoga and hot yoga, and fit in one or two sessions of that in a week. I walk a lot more now that I’ve learned a lot from the Primal Blueprint (this breaks it down nicely: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/a-fitness-plan-so-easy-a-caveman-did-it/). I also just started doing sprint intervals in accordance with the above info, and that’s a great butt kicker.

    A big thing though is that my workouts, unless it’s a leisurely walk or hike, never last longer than an hour, and many of them are around 30 minutes. Short, high intensity intervals are much, much more effective than wasted time slogging on an elliptical doing chronic cardio as I once did.

    Another big thing: HAVE FUN!

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