Day 30 has arrived. And while Step 2 (Reintroduction) still needs to take place, I’ve been reflecting on my last 30 days. Here are 10 Things that I learned while eating Paleo for 30 days:
1) This is not a time to learn how to cook.
Unfortunately, prior to beginning this Paleo Reset, my work in the kitchen did not extend beyond re-heating leftovers. By adding fresh food into the mix, I had to learn to properly cook it. There were many meals that started off with an easy-to-follow recipe, and turned out to be I guess I’m having scrambled eggs again for dinner. Now, not all of my dishes were bad, they just weren’t great. Perhaps my cooking skills have improved a bit; perhaps I need to keep trying (for a very long time).
2) This is not a time to save money.
Because my kitchen experiences were, well, experiments, I spent a lot of money that went straight into the trash can. Not to mention that most organic, cage-free, grass-fed foods were significantly more expensive than their hormone-ingested, pesticide-infested, caged-up counterparts. Grocery shopping a few times a week really adds up! I was learning to spend my money differently, but I definitely did not save any extra money in the end.
3) This is not a time to try a quick fix diet.
Protein is not a weight-loss magic pill. And if you don’t eat a thousand veggies and work out for four hours a day that protein is going to sit in your body (please note that I have no real research and data to back up this statement). I did not go into this detox with the intention of losing weight, but come on! I gave up sugar and bread and cheese! How could I NOT be losing weight?!? It wasn’t until this last week that I’ve dropped significantly. So if you’re looking for a quick fix, this ain’t it.
4) This is not a time to work on your social skills.
I went out with friends a few times during the last 30 days, and while I am capable of enjoying their company without adult beverages and decadent entrees, it just didn’t feel the same. I kept thinking about all of my restrictions, how delicious their food looked, and how I envied their ability to eat whatever they wanted (I know, a bit dramatic). But it’s tough eating Paleo and being sociable at the same time. It’s not impossible, just challenging.
5) This is not a time to focus on the “shoulds.”
I battled with the different “shoulds” in my mind (some of which I already discussed):
I should be losing weight.
I should be getting better at cooking.
I should be buying the organic squash.
I should, I should, I should. But, in order to be successful all the way through, you have to work past the “should,” or else failure and quitting will sound acceptable. (See my last post on quitting.)
6) This is a time to learn more about how your body works.
I had no idea how much food affected the way my body worked. Sure, I’ve heard it and read about it, but I didn’t fully believe it until I experienced it. The amount of energy that I naturally produced was exhilarating. I could tell when I was truly tired, and I slept better at night. I also felt better mentally and emotionally. I used to leave work with blurred vision and a headache. That stopped happening within the first week (after I kicked the caffeine habit). My mind wasn’t as foggy and my memory improved. I got excited to research and write again – something I haven’t felt since finishing my master’s degree. I felt happier each day, looked at the positive side of everything, and smiled more. Sure, there were moments of defeat – like wanting to quit – but that did not dominate my overall feelings, and everyone is entitled to a rough day every once in a while.
7) This is a time to learn how to live in solitude.
I am very comfortable being alone, and on many occasions, it’s my preference. But there is a difference between living alone and living in solitude. I had been living alone for a year and a half, but it wasn’t until these past 30 days that I actually learned to live in solitude. I cooked every meal for one. I cleaned up every meal I cooked. I spent hours perusing through recipes, trying to figure out how to use appliances in different ways, and grocery shopping. While I accompanied most of my time with music, the music eventually became white noise. I was left alone with my thoughts, my frustrations, and my victories. I looked forward to spending my Sundays in the kitchen, just cooking and thinking (most thoughts were spoken out loud because no one was there to listen). Instead of filling my calendar with social events, I decided to stay in most nights – not to isolate myself in pity, but because I truly wanted to be on my own. I looked forward to my time in solitude.
8) This is a time to challenge your self-control.
I cannot count the number of times that I had cravings for foods on the no-no list, or the number of times that I ate with people who were enjoying foods on my no-no list. And while these times are tough, they are not as tough as when you’re alone, with no one else holding you accountable. Self-control is not allowing others to tempt you, but more importantly, not letting yourself tempt you. No one would know if I bought an In-N-Out burger on the way home from work. No one would know that I had a piece of chocolate leftover from Christmas. No one would know that I ate my entire box of Thin Mint cookies that I’ve been saving for when I can eat them. But this Paleo detox is not for others; it’s for me. So I’m hurting no one but me. And that was all I needed – to believe in me.
9) This is a time to care about the types of food – fresh, organic, cage-free, grass-fed – that you willingly put into your body.
I struggled with the expense part of this detox. Sometimes I bought the organic versions, and sometimes I didn’t. But in the end, I was very conscious about what I was feeding myself. I know that I felt better all around, and so I will be taking this mentality with me beyond these 30 days. It’s no longer just food; it’s health and energy. It’s fuel for your body to move. Why spend so much money on nice clothing, cosmetics, and cleansing supplies like shampoo, to look good on the outside, but not be willing to do the same for your inside? You don’t buy a Porsche and fill it with regular gasoline (That’s right, right? I know very little about cars). Whether or not you choose to buy the fresh, organic, cage-free, grass-fed food, just take the time to think about it and see if it’s right for you at that time. Some days I will say yes, and some days I won’t.
10) This is a time for self-discovery.
This entire process has been a journey of self-discovery. All of my past blogs have been focused on this, and all 9 points above discuss this. Eating Paleo is more than just a physical renewal. It teaches you things about yourself that you may not otherwise realize. It pushes you to your limits, and challenges you to overcome your old ways. If you feel stuck in your life right now, I would definitely suggest focusing on treating yourself better, whether that be accomplished by eating Paleo, or a different method of your choice. When you take the time to focus on you, it opens doors to spread that energy to others.
I will continue to share my journey with you as I begin to reintroduce foods back into my diet. But until then…
Sláinte! (with water, of course)