Today is our 1 year anniversary of when we started our Paleo journey. E.J. and I have been through a lot of changes this year – not just with the lifestyle changes and weight loss, but also with our careers. I can honestly say I took some giant leaps out of my comfort zone in the last year, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the result. I’ve managed to achieve 2 really big goals of mine all in the span of that year, and I look forward to seeing what we can accomplish in the next.
Here are some important life lessons I’ve learned in the last year:
- Fat doesn’t make me fat – In fact, for me, eating foods with natural fat keep me fuller longer, and makes digestion easier
- Sugar is not as awesome as I used to think, and I actively choose to avoid it – In the beginning, I wasn’t sure I could actually stop eating sugary foods. I had such a strong sugar addiction that I had incredibly nasty withdrawal symptoms during my Whole30, and really struggled to find ways to cope with stress that didn’t involve something sweet. I can say that I still get cravings occasionally today, but I have found that a small paleo treat after dinner every 2 or 3 days is my “sweet” spot as it were. Anything more than that (like the sugar overload I allowed myself on my birthday this week) and I’m dealing with bloating, shaking, acne, and stomach aches. So I know my limits, understand the consequences, and feel like I can actively choose when to treat myself, and when I just don’t want to deal with it. That for me is a breakthrough – I’m in control for the first time in my life.
- I can maintain a lower weight without exercise – This seems like a simple thing, but to me, it was a huge revelation. When my job situation changed this summer, my stress-level went through the roof and my schedule changed. I wasn’t sleeping well on top, so getting up and running in the morning wasn’t happening. Initially, I was getting a bit depressed, thinking that all of the hard work I had done over the year was going to be wasted, but I didn’t gain the weight back. In fact I still lost, just much more slowly by just continuing my new eating habits and limiting the sugar.
- I can go off the rails for special occasions and get back on again – Again, this is something that people often worry about and struggle with. I’ve certainly fallen “off the wagon” in previous diets which led to scrapping the entire effort. But at this point, with this effort, I can say that eating sugary foods and breads truly feels like an exception, and I while I don’t regret my choices, I look forward to getting back to “normal” because of how much better I feel.
- Life is better without junk food – I think I spent the majority of my life so far not really believing that concept. I believed that junk food was one of life’s great happiness-generators, and that my life was richer because I could eat whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. But this is a bit of a lie, or at least a half-truth. The truth is that while I do miss a few junky foods, I don’t feel like my life is unfulfilled because I’ve removed them from my regular diet. The way I see it, they’re like an amusement park – fun to visit now and then, but generally less enjoyable and downright ugly to live there long term. I look and feel so much better than I ever have, and so many of my ailments have cleared up, that I’m not just ok with not eating the junk, but I’m glad I don’t anymore.
I hope some or all of these revelations speak to you in some way, and that you will consider making a change in your life that takes you outside of your comfort zone. I’m sure glad I did!