Monday, July 22, 2013

So Easy a Caveman Can Do It - But I Can't

Over the last few months, I've realized that I've kind of plateaued in my attempt to get rid of some of that "stubborn belly fat" that all those commercials for wonder supplements and crazy workout DVDs love to talk about.  It's not stubborn.  It's an unwelcome guest, and I'm kind of tired of it having way overstayed its welcome.  
So I've been looking at how I can step it up.  Not just so I can more easily slip into a pair of pants, but also so that I know I'm healthier.
For a long while, I've really reduced my meat consumption.  I really really really don't care for chicken. When I was pregnant with HRH, it was a huge aversion to me, so much that when I tried to buy some of those pre-cooked strips for the Husband at the store one day, my knees buckled and I thought I was going to pass out.  Ever since, I can only handle it if it's REALLY well made, and I have to REALLY want it.  I also have tried to cut down on red meat, especially because of the many links between red meat consumption and a greater risk of colon cancer (among others).  
And I like most vegetarian protein sources.  I love beans.  I really like tofu.  Quinoa is great.  Tempeh - meh (see what I did there?); that's really the one thing that I've had that I didn't really care for.
But nothing seemed to be working.
I decided, then, to take a week and try a modified paleo plan.  I say modified because I did use a "paleo for runners" approved foods list, which includes more starchy veggies like sweet potatoes and squash.  Apparently a non-runners paleo diet doesn't allow for them.
Basically, the paleo diet is, from what I understand, supposed to mimic the ingredients that our very ancient, probably much hairier forefathers would have eaten.  Of course, this means no processed foods, but it also nixes all grains, dairy, and sugars (although some sites allowed maple syrup and honey because those were natural sugars, and I can totally imagine an early Homo sapiens risking life and limb for a handful of honey like he were some Ice Age Winnie the Pooh).  Probably the most restrictive aspect for me, though was that it didn't allow for legumes or beans.  Even though I love me some rice and white breads, rarely a week goes by that I don't have beans with at least two meals.  But I was determined to try this to rev up my body's vacationing fat burning abilities.
I created a meal plan for the week and headed to the grocery store.
First of all, holy sticker shock, Batman!  I haven't actually bought meat that wasn't turkey necks for Zooey or bacon in a really long time, apparently, because when I picked up a small package of ground beef, I thought I was going to have to take a second mortgage out on the house.  Yikes.
I admit that on top of my mandate that I would still be enjoying my morning coffee with half-and-half and cinnamon sugar, I did "cheat" during one meal.  One of my friends and I had lunch, and I had a beer.  Beer, as you know, is made from grains - gluten-y grains - so it's waaaaaaaay up on the Verboten Items List.  But I also don't want to be that person who puts the kibosh on every restaurant suggestion because it doesn't work for my super restrictive diet plan.  "Oh, no, that place doesn't work for me.  I can't eat anything that casts a shadow past 1:00 in the afternoon on Tuesdays."  
Interestingly enough, that evening, I felt TERRIBLE.  Like you might right before you get sick.  Achy, tired, tempting fate by trying to NOT get a headache.  Just...blah.  And then I got cranky because I didn't feel well, so it wasn't the most pleasant evening.
I can't say with absolute certainty that this was all caused by the grains.  But it was interesting nonetheless.  
At the end of the week, I knew that this plan isn't for me.  That isn't to say it's a terrible idea.  I really like certain aspects of it.  But I think that it's more of a diet than a lifestyle for me at this point in my life, and restrictive diets never work.
What I DO think I can take out of this experience is that I don't necessarily need to embrace the red meat again, but I can bid a fond farewell to grains more easily than I thought.  And that's where I think I can improve my eating habits.  While I'll be welcoming beans back to my diet very soon (hello, Cuban dinner plans), I'm not sure that I'll be so quick to nab a loaf of bread to go along with them.  I'd love to experiment with gluten-free grains and work to reduce the amount of corn-based products I consume.  While I didn't weigh myself at all this week, I do feel less full around the middle, even though I've felt like I've eaten a lot more than I usually did.
One big success is that I was able to stick to my meal plan.  I made it a lot more simple and relied a great deal more on leftovers for lunch and dinner repeats, and I think that's where I've gone off the rails before.  I'm hoping to be more consistent with that as well.

Where have you been successful in modifying your food lifestyle to make healthy changes?  What are you willing to "give up"?  What are non-negotiables for you?


  1. I remember eating grains for the first time after my month without them; I felt super sick too. I'm sure my body would be happier without carbs, but I can't seem to say no to their deliciousness. Good for you for trying something new to boost you out of the plateau! It's so tough. I've been sitting on a "plateau" for almost 6 months and it's obnoxious.

    1. Super obnoxious. I think fewer grains and starches is the way to go (this after my breakfast included potatoes), but I can't give up my sweet, sweet beer. I could also just eat LESS... :)