My 30 day Paleo Challenge

For the past 30 days, I have been following a strict paleo way of eating (I don’t like the term ‘diet’). I haven’t mentioned it before because I wanted to complete the self-imposed challenge first and see how it went.

There is more to it, but to sum it up quickly, this means no grains, dairy, beans, & sugar.  There is a lot of information out there on the science behind this, so I’ll let you do your own research.  Before you think I’ve lost my mind, let me explain how I got to this point.  

 

The background:

I’ve struggled with my weight for as long as I can remember.

I have PCOS (poly-cystic ovarian syndrome), which comes with IR (insulin resistance) and seriously affects my hormones.

Diabetes runs in my family.

Statistics show that something like 40-50% of women with PCOS will develop diabetes by age 40.

I just turned 37.   I don’t have diabetes.  I want to keep it that way.

I need to lose 60ish pounds.

I don’t eat a lot of junk food, fast food or processed food.  For the past 4 years, our family has eaten 80% all natural/organic.  We don’t eat High Fructose Corn Syrup, artificial colorings or artificial sweeteners.  I rarely eat white flour, and instead eat brown rice, whole wheat flour, and other whole grains.  I don’t drink soda.  I don’t smoke.  I rarely drink.

Cutting out those things made no change whatsoever on my weight, and I was out of things I could cut out of my diet (almost).  So something else must be going on.

 

A little sidenote:

Over the past few years, as we have done more research on Lovebug’s Sensory Processing Disorder and ADHD, we also seen over and over that a GFCF (gluten free, caisen free) diet would likely be best for her. 

I was fine with the gluten free part, after all there are tons of substitutes out there for breads, muffins, crackers, etc – many of which we already liked.

The CF, or dairy free part was another story.  Give up cheese?  Were they crazy? 

Several months ago, I had tried the GF diet with Bug for a while (not even trying the CF part), and in even a short time I realized I felt better after eating.  Unfortunately, I was in over my head and didn’t stick with it because I was spending a fortune on groceries.  I had to take a step back and figure out how to do GF without all the pre-packaged foods.  I needed to get back to what I enjoyed – cooking from scratch.

 

Fast forward to recently:

I had heard of the paleo way of eating in the past, and knew that it was “no grain, no dairy”.  I had dismissed it once again because I could “never” give up cheese. Yet, this lifestyle kept coming back in front of me and I had a strong feeling that this way of eating would be good for me. 

Recently, while I was doing some other research online, I saw several references to a “30 Day Paleo Challenge”.   Several people were saying, “just give it 30 days of eating the paleo way and see what happens”.

No grains, no dairy, no beans, no sugar……for 30 days? Could I do it?

I decided to give it my best shot.  I can do anything for 30 days, right?

Besides, I’m only cooking for 2 at the moment, and I’m in charge of deciding what we eat. 

 

Preparing for the challenge:

First, in order to make my plan, I picked up a copy of the book Everyday Paleo.  This book is written by Sarah Fragoso, who is a mom herself to 3 boys.  Her book contains a ton of yummy recipes (with pictures!!), as well as a 30 day eating plan, and grocery shopping lists.  Remember, she’s a mom, so these are even kid friendly recipes!  She talks about incorporating this way of eating into your kids’ lives, and how it can help them.  Both on her blog, and in the book, she’s very real about her lifestyle and how it works for her and her family. I love that!

I also cleaned out the fridge and the pantry before I started.  Like I said, we already have very few processed foods in the house, but there were a few things like chips & bread that had to go.  There are just some foods that I can not have in my house without eating them. 

I also prayed about this.  A lot.  I knew that I couldn’t get through this without God’s help.  I am so weak, but He is strong.  So I asked for His help. 

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength! Phil 4:13

Then, I was ready!

 

The challenge:

I did not follow her exact eating plan because I already had food in my freezer that I wanted to use, but I did make several of her recipes and every single one was delicious!  I’ll post about those separately, but we’ve been eating very well. 

I DID IT!  Not a piece of candy, no pizza, no cheese, no ranch dressing, no bread.  For 30 days.

 

The results:

I did lose 8 pounds.  That is amazing, especially considering I still haven’t bumped up the exercise to where it needs to be yet.  But, I can tell you that even if I had not lost an ounce, I would be sold!  The physical changes I’ve had are life changing!

Within the first week, I could already tell a difference in how I felt.  My energy level was amazing! There were several evenings that I was asking myself “did I have caffeine this afternoon?”, and the answer was always “no”.  I felt GREAT.  So great that it’s scary to think about how tired I was all the time before.  I’ve been running around chasing my daughter up and down the stairs, cleaning house late at night, and feeling overall amazing.

My mind has been clearer, and it’s been easier to focus.

I have had zero "afternoon crashes”.  Zero.  This is unusual for me.  I even had one day that I literally forgot to eat.  I met a friend that morning unplanned and then the day got away from me. Before I knew it, it was 3:00 in the afternoon and I hadn’t eaten all day.  I KNOW that’s not healthy, but the point is – I still felt great! Normally, I would have been literally shaking, and getting grumpy (just ask my hubby), but I wasn’t at all, so I was able to make a smart choice about what to eat instead of just grabbing something full of sugar to stop the shaking.

No cravings.  I am still in shock that I went this long without sugar, ranch dressing, and cheese.  Because I haven’t had the highs and lows, I’ve been able to make better choices and really think about my foods instead of just grabbing something because it’s easy or I’m craving it.

I have slept better.  I know this because when I wake up in the morning my husband’s side of the bed is still made, which means I’m not tossing and turning as much.  Normally, when he’s not in the bed, I end up with the blankets all over the place. 

I’m also not getting up during the night to use the bathroom.  For ages now, I have gotten up multiple (3-4) times during the night, and had just resigned myself to the fact that it was just how I am.  Not any more!  I’ve been getting up once on some nights, and there have been many nights I haven’t gotten up at all.  Scary to think that the “excess urination” might have been caused by blood sugar issues all along.

Another awesome side effect is one that is probably “too much information”, but I’m going to share it because I know there are thousands of women out there dealing with this, and I want them to know about this!!  One of the side effects of PCOS is increased testosterone and unwanted facial hair growth (so my ‘sideburn’ areas often need a little plucking/waxing).  In the last 30 days, this has not been a problem! Unheard of! Oh, there has been a stray or two, but overall, I have seen this greatly diminish.

I can tell in my body that I’m less “puffy”.  I know that sounds funny since I still have a lot of weight to lose, but I can tell that my arms and legs and other areas are just less swollen.   I can see it in my face!

 BeforeAfterFace

Life changing, I tell you!

 

What now?

I’m keeping on.  I’m sold on this lifestyle.  Does that mean I’ll never have bread again? Or pizza? Or ice cream?  Not a chance!  It doesn’t have to be all or nothing.  In fact, Sarah Fragoso wrote an awesome post about just this “all or nothing” topic.  I think the 90/10 rule applies here.  If I can do this 90% of the time, then I’m good.  If I choose to have something that doesn’t fit this lifestyle, then it’s just that – a choice.  I can tell you that I will make wiser choices.  If I want pizza, I’ll make a gluten-free crust.  If I want something sweet, I’ll start with fruit, or some dark chocolate.  I’ll make ice cream with just coconut milk and fruit in my Vitamix.  I know I’ll have beans – I love beans.  And corn tortillas.  But I can leave off the cheese, and I can make gluten free choices most of the time.

I’ll bump up the exercise! I’m redoing my Couch-to-5K program because I had stopped it for so long that I had to start over.  That’s felt really good.  I’ll also add in more weight resistance, lap swimming & bike riding.  At some point in the future, I would love to look into some CrossFit or Mixed Martial Arts classes because I really want to get stronger in addition to losing weight.

I’ll also continue incorporating this into Lovebug’s life.  She’s been eating what I’ve had during this month, but she’s has extras too.  I haven’t stopped her dairy intake, but I did decrease it a lot, and I’m trying to make the majority of her foods gluten free again.  Overall, it won’t be too challenging to adapt her to this lifestyle, at least 90% of the time.  She is already an adventurous eater, eats a great variety of fruits and vegetables, loves sushi (sashimi, actually – she prefers just the fish), loves meat, loves to help me cook, and will try just about anything.  The other 10% of the time, she can enjoy her organic, dye-free, gluten-free candy guilt free!

 

Before you say “I could never do that”, I’m not saying it has to be for everyone.  Do your own research.  As for me, if eating this way makes me feel this good, I’d be crazy not to continue.  Soon, I’ll post some of the delicious recipes that I’ve had this past month!

18 comments to My 30 day Paleo Challenge

  • So proud and excited for you!!!

  • Paula B

    PTL! Have you also discovered Elana’s Pantry and The Spunky Coconut? Good resources for gluten free casein free mostly low sugar recipes mesp. when you’re looking for an occasional treat like a birthday cake or dessert) and experiences.

    • Midlife Army Wife

      Thanks for the new recipe sites! They look great 🙂 I’m enjoying finding so many delicious recipes for this way of life. Thanks for sharing!

  • Laura

    I am so happy for you! Way to go sticking to it! I did a very similar diet about a year ago (an elimination diet) I lasted about 3 weeks. In that time I lost 17 pounds. (I also have a very hard time losing weight, so that was amazing.) I didn’t really feel any better energy wise though, which was the whole point. So, I didn’t stick with it. I have since, gained all that weight back.

    I need to try it again. What I really want is more energy, but since that isn’t forthcoming, I guess I would rather be skinny and tired, than fat and tired. 😉 lol

  • Meagan

    Congrats on going 30 days Paleo! I am finishing up my first nutritional challenge on Friday since I started Paleo. I started May 1st and have had an amazing experience. Your after pic is great! Good job on all your success and continued healthy lifestyle! (p.s. Found u via everyday Paleo on FB)

  • Mom (Grandma)

    oh my goodness, you have always been beautiful, but WOW!! BLONDE HAIR AND ALL Proud of you, keep it up, especially if you feel better love ya’ll

  • Terri

    Way to go, Stacy! Thank you for sharing your experience. We share some common characteristics and this sounds like a good option for me.

  • Hubby

    Bride, I am so proud of you. You look great and most importantly you feel great. It thrills me to talk to you and hear you have so much energy. Keep up the great work and keep getting healthier. I love you!!!

    Hubby

  • Homegirl

    How awesome! Go you!!

  • Polly

    Way to go! My diet is just like your “before” diet – no junk, and yet I’m 30 lbs overweight. I went striclly paleo from Jan-March and felt fantastic. Didn’t lose any weight though so got off the wagon. Lately I’ve been feeling icky and perhaps this is the inspiration I need to get back at it.
    God bless your husband for serving – is that an Airborne beret? My oldest son is an Army Ranger – he just returned from his 3rd deployment – it’s so hard.

  • Laura

    Awesome! Keep it up. Paleo lifestyle is a lot easier to stick with than any other and if you keep the carbs in check you can loose about all the weight you’d like. You might try switching from regular dairy to organic raw dairy for your little one. It’s a good slow step to dairy elimination. We’re paleo + organic raw cheese and I find that I can tolerate raw dairy, but not pasteurized ice cream or milk. I’ve also found that when I eat gluten or past. dairy that I pay for it with a bloated stomach and gas. I’ve also noticed that pizza just doesn’t taste as good as it did when I was “craving it” in my SAD days.

  • Great going! Living paleo is fantastic, a bit hard to start at first but after you do it’s great. I’ve redone the Couch to 5k, now onto the Gateway to 10k, and I highly recommend getting into Crossfit now. Don’t put it off. I’ve lost more weight and toned up so much from Crossfit, it’s amazing. Loving the fact that I don’t have to get up through the night as well.

  • Today is my 30th day paleo challenge and this post… I could write it!!! I’m with you in spirit, even if I’m on the other side of the planet!!!

  • Hi! I saw your post on Everyday Paleo and had to stop by. I’ve been eating mainly Paleo for a month and LOVE it. I wasn’t strict for the first 30 days, knowing I would probably fall off the wagon way too quick if I was… but I have seen the benefits and LOVE that I can show someone else’s testimony to readers of my blog. I am going to share your post in hopes that I can get other people to give it a shot! 🙂 Come visit my site and you can see my journey too 🙂

  • Stacy, the transformation in your face alone is AMAZING!!! Holy cow, I might research this and try it for myself. Keep up the good work. But do I really have to give up cheese?? Uggh!

    Love ya,
    Louise
    xoxo

  • Thanks for the recommendation and links! My son and I have recently started a GFCF diet, but due to his other food issues, we’re almost paleo, except for white rice. I keep telling myself that progress, not perfection, is our goal.

    • Midlife Army Wife

      Every little bit helps! If white rice is the worst thing you are eating you are doing awesome! I hope you are seeing and feeling a big difference when you eat GFCF. It helps I think when you can actually tell a difference in how you feel because that motivates you to keep it up 🙂 Good luck!

  • Well done. I am half way through my 30 day paleo challenge and it is unbelievable the changes in my body. I have lost 3.1kgs and no longer need my asthma puffer. I will definitely keep up the paleo lifestyle.

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