This summer has been all about improving my body image and over health. Since graduating college, a lot of my eating habits have had to be adjusted in order to remain functionally healthy. On a steady diet of delivery food (pizza, Chinese, subs, pasta etc.), after I stopped swimming last summer, I gained almost 20lbs. Those 20lbs still kept me well within a healthy weight range for my height (which apparently is up to 155lbs at 5’6”), but I felt pretty awful, and not just because I didn’t like the way I was looking. My digestive system was as bad as ever, I wasn’t sleeping all that well, and I was still always tired, which has been a persistent problem for almost the past ten years (since puberty/depression hit).
I started swimming a couple times a week at the start of the summer, and despite sleeping better for it, I wasn’t really feeling better. I was always sore after swimming. After some idle reading, I decided to change my diet, based on the “primal” or “paleo” lifestyle. It should be noted that while the well-accepted definition of “diet” is a temporary way of eating in order to effect a certain set of results (weight loss or weight gain, primarily), the dictionary definition as a noun is still meant to describe the foods we consume. In this case, my diet lacks grains (not just gluten, which means no corn or gluten-alternatives) and has minimal carbs.
Now, I can’t explain the science of this to you, but I can recommend a few places that can. For one, watch the simple and low-tech documentary “Fat Head”. It is advertised as a response to Morgan Spurloch’s “Super Size Me”, but goes well beyond that into investigating SAD (Standard American Diet) and why the food pyramid is all wrong. I haven’t yet read it, but I am constantly being told to read “Good Calories, Bad Calories” by Gary Taubes. If you find the science in those sources convincing, check out Mark Sisson’s “Primal Blueprint”. It’s admittedly a bit condescending, but it provides a really simple and helpful format for everyday life and how best to live healthfully without having to schedule daily work-outs or doing “chronic cardio”.
Basically, it all sounds like a really nice and idyllic way to live, and it is! I grew up understanding that “carbs give you energy”, but after being a heavy carb eater for my entire life until now, I am reasonably concluding that carbs were doing me in. Since I cut down on carbs, my energy has increased! I am eating more protein, meat, and healthy fats (omega-3 wherever I can get it). In this low-fat environment, it’s not easy, but my digestive system, good sleep, and over all mood boost tell me that I’m doing okay. These dietary changes have brought about better and faster results than all the oatmeal for breakfast ever did! Yesterday I went swimming after a couple weeks off. It was hard, and I pushed myself, but I am not sore today like I would’ve been in the past. My body actually feels leaner to me and I can see that the excess weight on my stomach is reduced. Could it be that the work I put into my body will actually make a difference with all the bacon & eggs I’ve been eating?
And who doesn’t like bacon?