What “Paleo” means to me – it has changed

I started eating “Paleo” in 2012. Back then I was coming off the low fat/high carb diet. I ate a lot of Subway. This was still back in my Weight Watchers days so I tracked my food using their points systems. I ate a lot of their “1 point” snacks, a lot of fruit and loved going to Subway for a turkey or club sandwich with pretty much all of the vegetables and NO MAYO!

I was hungry. A lot.

My wife had been doing this Paleo thing for a few months and I finally read It Starts with Food by the Hartwig’s followed shortly after by reading The Paleo Solution by Mr. Paleo himself, Robb Wolf.

After reading It Starts With Food I was sold after the section that basically described my day of eating: yogurt for breakfast with some cereal or granola and then maybe a few hours later I was starving so I ate a granola bar, then by 10am I was starving so I went to Subway and had a six inch sandwich with some baked potato chips and by 1pm I was starving again, so another high carb snack (probably a 1 point WW snack of some sort) and by the time I got home from work I was famished and I would have some wheat pasta with red sauce a some meat of some sort. Still starving before I went to bed I had another high carb snack of some sort – but all in all I stayed within my point allotment for the day as prescribed by Weight Watchers.

That was me – almost EXACTLY what I went through everyday.

If there was an alternative I was sold. I went all in. That Thanksgiving I HAD to have a free-range, grass-fed turkey for Thanksgiving. I did my first Whole 30 in January of 2013 and was hooked even more.

Along with learning a lot about food and what I should and shouldn’t eat, I became a prick. Well, many might say I still am. I became miserable to eat around because I couldn’t believe people would eat cheese! You are eating rice?! WHY?! Carbs? I get my carbs from fruit and vegetables. Please. Heaven forbid if someone actually tried to tell me they were dieting in some fashion and ate Subway – I would get all up in their business.

I was an asshole. Looking back on it now I am embarrassed. As I sit here and write this out I can almost feel myself blushing because of how stupid, arrogant and over-the-top I was.

When I first started losing weight I was just happy when I saw anyone doing anything to make themselves better. I didn’t care how they were doing it, as long as they were working to get healthier. Why didn’t that apply with food? I’ll tell you why – I felt like I had been lied to my entire life, by the government of all things, and I thought others should know, too.

However, most people don’t care. They like to eat and they know that cookies and donuts are bad for them and they don’t care – they want to live in the moment rather than deprive themselves only to MAYBE live a few days, months or years longer.

Let’s just say I have switched it up a bit, especially the past few months. While I still say I eat “Paleo” it now has an entirely new meaning to me.

Back when I was hardcore I would listen to the Robb Wolf/Greg Everett podcasts and sort of laugh to myself when someone wrote that they ate 80/20 Paleo. What does that mean? How do you quantify that? Besides, me and my elitist self ate strict Paleo every meal of everyday except on Friday or Saturday nights. On EITHER, not both, Friday or Saturday night I would cheat. And when I say cheat I would let meyself have tortilla chips and salsa and a beer with my otherwise 100% Paleo dinner. My cheat wasn’t pizza and ice cream. It was never bread or tortillas, but maybe chips or cheese or a very small cheat with an otherwise Paleo meal.

That’s changed.

What Paleo means to me, today: I try my best to eat whole foods. That’s it. I try my best to eat whole foods, nothing processed. This means I can have rice. I can eat cheese. I let myself waiver a bit more on bars, too. Like I consider a Perfect Foods Bar perfectly acceptable. Back a few years ago I wouldn’t because I would avoid honey – organic or otherwise because it is just sugar. A Perfect Foods Bar is pretty damn clean, but last year at this time it wouldn’t have been clean enough. A Larabar? Sure, as long as it didn’t have peanuts or dark chocolate in it – those were not Paleo enough for me. Today I eat Peanut Butter (Adam’s, though, which is only peanuts and no sugar added) and I do eat the peanut butter and jelly Larabars – those are fucking amazing.

I even let myself have bread. Right now I am eating it too often. My wife is pregnant with our third child and she is craving white bread so we have had it around the house too much and I have caved in too often (even this morning) by having a piece of toast with peanut butter.

Now I am definitely more inline with the 80/20 people that eat Paleo. Monday-Friday I do really good eating nearly 100% Paleo (the Paleo folks that will eat rice at Chipotle and eat a Perfect Foods Bar). During the weekend I might slip more and have a chicken sandwich at Chick-Fil-A.

Partly my change in diet is because I am watching my macro-nutrients. I am trying to eat about 35% of my diet in protein, 35% in fat and 30% in carbs (I was doing 40/35/25 but found I was constipated too often so I moved my PRO down and CAR up to help my insides work more efficiently).

In eating this way I have learned a few things that were happening when I was eating Paleo (and not really watching calories or macros):

  • I have learned that I am not eating NEAR enough meat, which is fine by me, I love meat.
  • I eat way, way too much fat. I don’t need to add guacamole to ground beef to get “healthy fats” – I have enough fat already in the ground beef.
  • I have a hard time eating enough carbs. Fruits and vegetables are great, but you have to eat A LOT of them to get enough carbs.

So, with this I have freed myself a little bit with what I eat. I think I look leaner. I got my body fat tested last week in a dunk tank and measured at 13%. Just a few years ago I was still in the 22-25% range. I think this style is working.

I am not an ass to eat around anymore. I allow myself to have a donut every-so-often and fit it into my macros when I do. And, guess what, my gym performance has improved. I had plateaued for quite a while and during the “Fight Night” we had the other night I cleaned 255 which is the most I have cleaned in probably four or five months.

I am guessing I am not the first person to go through this sort of food transformation. Paleo eating was such an eye opener for me initially. It was a shock to read about the government subsidizing corn production when corn is used mostly for food that is terrible for you. I still don’t eat grain based oils, but I will eat corn on the cobb, even though it isn’t Paleo.

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