Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Jn story

I've spent a large portion of my life far less than healthy. I just accepted this as my version of normal and tried to find ways to navigate life as a biochemically challenged human. At one point a very dear friend of mine presented a version of the paleo diet to me. And then she did it again. And again. Basically she drug me to it kicking and screaming by suggesting I try it and prove her wrong. I was convinced it would not work but it was also unlikely to kill me so I was a ruthlessly strict paleo eater for a month. No grains, no legumes, no dairy, and light on starches and super sugary fruits. 

The problem for me was that this paleo diet actually worked. Dramatically. And quickly. I was less tired and I had more energy and better concentration. I lost weight. I stopped losing hair. My insides behaved themselves. I wasn't bloated. I stopped having crazy mood swings and blood sugar spikes and crashes. I stopped having muscle cramps and spasms. Regular headaches and other general muscle and joint pain stopped. My skin cleared up. Slow to heal scars started to disappear. I felt better all around. I was even willing to suggest for the first time in a long time that I might be borderline healthy. 

And then the month long experiment was over and I broke my "fast" with fast food on a road trip. HUGE mistake. And very sick me. So I had to admit that I was wrong. And come to terms with the fact that I needed to make these changes permanent. 

Fast forward a bit. I have been eating roughly paleo sometimes more sometimes less for months. I have learned how to cheat. Learned how to label myself so that other humans will "understand" me. Figured out a handful of pre-packaged, super easy junk food options. Learned which foods make me particularly ill if I fall off the wagon. I've come to a status quo that is convenient and manageable if not fully healthy for me. The problem is that I have no idea if I have settled myself in a place that is cheating too much to make a difference. I don't remember how sick I was but I also suspect that I could feel much better than I feel. 

So I went on a diet vacation. I indulged every craving. I did not plan ahead what I would eat or when. Instead of a little bad here and some mediocre there I had a lot of everything that appealed to me. Bread and cookies and cake and pasta and cheese cheese glorious cheese! Allow me to butter everything and feast on crackers, creamy soups and scones. How about whole milk beverages- cocoa and chai? On my list to consume still before I end this reign of terror on my intestines: Pizza, baleadas mixtas, macaroni and cheese, maybe tortellini and something smothered beyond recognition  in Alfredo sauce. And more pizza. 

Why the train wreck? I was traveling so it was easy. I also have had an ever growing list of things I crave that I wanted to indulge and hopefully get out of my system for a while. I think in this case one week of binge consumption is better than semi-regular indulgences. And I wanted to see if I really felt worse. Maybe the diet didn't matter anymore or maybe I was cheating too much and hadn't realized it? Since I couldn't remember what a garbage body felt like I figured this would be a good reminder of how it used to be and what have been fighting to avoid. And I want to go back to being fully committed to better health.

I decided (before the breakdown) that on April 2 I would go the way of a Whole 30 and started eating everything. It's been equal parts awesome and horrendous. I feel awful and my body is angry. I know this is how I used to feel every day. I can't believe I thought this was ok or normal. For instance, I went over 3 hours between meals and ended up eating a sack of cookies from a vending machine so that I didn't kill a stranger or pass out. Ugh. And all my joints hurt. And the scar on my foot hurts again when I wear the wrong shoes. I am bloated and greasy and tired and itchy. My sleep schedule is beyond a mess. I'm gross and I am ready to be done with this game physically and mentally. I think the funniest thing is that my cravings have shifted to the other end of the spectrum. I want spinach and steak and green beans and cranberries. 

For the time being I will keep eating things that will kill me. And then I will do an about face and I will do my best to keep you informed of how it turns out. I am hoping this will help keep me honest and will remind me in the future what changed and why I shouldn't pass this way again. And I think that by sharing recipes and meal plans for the sake of helping others I will be more likely to keep this up. We will find out. 


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