I have been brewing on this blog for quite some time. Most of those who are already “in the know” about Paleo will find this a bit boring…nothing new to them. Those who dig their heels in about Paleo may never read this. Maybe it will strike a chord with someone but they aren’t going to hit “Like” or “Share.” It’s hard to predict.
I wrote one of my most favorite blogs as a guest blog for Robb Wolf (one of the Paleo leaders and someone who continues to inspire and support me with his graciousness), but that blog fell flat to his audience. Maybe it wasn’t technical enough. Maybe it was too simple. It felt good to write that blog. It was one of my personal favorites. I appreciated Robb Wolf sharing it on his website.
Then again, another blog I wrote as a guest on Dr. Kristin Prentiss Ott, MD site about tips to recovery after injury or surgery was not as inspiring to write for me, but apparently much more well received on her site. Funny. I don’t totally understand it all, the world of blogging and Internet and likes and sharing…but apparently I can’t stop.
I can’t stop because health is AWESOME. It is always a work in progress, but I never knew I felt bad until I felt good. Although there are many components that help to support health, it wasn’t until I changed how I ate that it finally all came together.
Paleo for me at the beginning was 100% gluten free, dairy free, legume free, and minimal sugar. Paleo for me today is still 95% gluten free with some grains occasionally white and brown rice mostly, optimal dairy in the form of organic/grass-fed or goat, caffeine free and minimal sugar. As Robb Wolf says this is my “Shade of Paleo.” Yours is likely different than mine. I live whole foods inspired and very conscious about processed food consumption with minimal ingredients. It sounds like A LOT of work. I get it. It is not the norm. But maybe these reasons why I hate to love Paleo will help you understand why I continue to do what I do…despite the effort.
So, here are 5 reasons why I hate to love Paleo:
1. Exacerbates perfectionism
I never realized I was a perfectionist until I went Paleo inspired. I work daily to avoid the perfection demon. Maybe it is best to say that I was an unidentified control freak. But the point is that feeling healthy is PERFECT. Not only that but I get to CONTROL it by paying attention to what I eat. I am not perfect about it 100% of the time because my healthy state doesn’t require that. But I am conscious about my choices 100% of the time. I have learned that I have to be careful with sugar. I am addicted. I can fall into gluten once in a while and it makes me a little sad a few days later, but I can prepare for it. My health is perfect as it is. I may get a cold, but my body knows how to deal, it doesn’t linger for months anymore. I don’t depend on over the counter medications the way I used to including NSAIDS, decongestants, nasal spray, anti-depressants, to name a few. The biggest issue is to keep perfectionism in check, because it can get out of hand and is an unrealistic expectation.
2. Mental Clarity
I no longer have the “brain fog.” You know when you can’t totally think clearly? Or you forget things a lot? I always thought that was just motherhood. I still have nominal aphasia where I can’t recall names well, but other things are much better. I see things clearly. Sometimes that’s hard to deal with because I have to keep my mouth shut. That’s why clarity is so much work. Now I notice things I never would have seen before and I have to control my mouth! Like watching another kid have hyperactivity problems or being chronically sick. As I watch them eat refined and processed sugary foods. I have to bite my tongue….it’s not my place. Turns out, when you say things, people feel judged. That’s not my intention, because that is where my kids used to be!!!!...chronically ill, behavioral problems, stomach issues, rashes and pain. Anyways, the mental clarity for my family is great, but for the rest of the world it is a lot more work for me to control my mouth.
I want to be sure that you understand that energy is not to be confused with my laziness. I am still lazy. But there are times that I leave Crossfit having pushed myself hard (or I thought I did) and feeling like I still have energy for something else. And I know when I go to Crossfit, although I might fear the unknown exercise, I have faith that my body can do hard things now and repair itself because I have a normal inflammatory response that I no longer ignore. Like today, I did a series of 5 kipping pull-ups in a row, 10 times. I will be sore, but my gradual progress over nearly 2 years is finally paying off. Or I have energy to write multiple blogs and try to run a business on my own. Even the kids have energy. Not hyperactivity, but this intense focus to use their body and brain intensely all the way until bedtime. Sometimes my energy needs to be focused because I get too many things going at the same time. Really though, I don’t know what to do with the excess energy because I never had it before. I need to focus this energy. And this is why I keep writing.
4. Insatiable appetite for knowledge/learning
When I started paleo I read a zillion books. I couldn’t stop reading about why this works and how to make it better (perfectionism). I even decided to go back to school so I could learn MORE and then be able to help others more specifically. Now I have a pile up of books to read and learn from. And despite my energy, there simply isn’t enough time in the day to get it all in.
5. Social awkwardness
This ties into #2. My mental clarity makes it awkward because I have to keep my mouth shut so as not to offend anyone. But also, others feel awkward because they think I am difficult for my food choices. Or, they feel badly for my children not eating the oreo cookies and being left out. Really, they are fine. They know it’s not healthy and they like feeling healthy too so it’s no big deal. Or, I feel uncomfortable because people notice the change in my appearance. I have never been comfortable in the center stage despite what many people think. However, I am acknowledging that I know people notice me now. I am learning to accept and appreciate compliments. It really is nice. But I am also working on not letting that compliment be an open discussion about what I do, because most people still feel judged when I do. Or they feel like they can’t attain what it is that I do. It’s awkward. I am sure that some people don’t invite us anymore because they feel our food issues make it complicated. Or when they really go out of their way to include us by buying a gluten free product and we still say no thank you. This is getting better over time as the family and I are practicing simply saying “no thank you.” And we simply bring a healthy plate of vegetables or fruit to share so it’s no problem. I also have a stash of paleo treats to bring if the need arises. We really like being included in social gatherings and we really hope someday no one feels awkward about eating real food.
Where does all this leave me?
I still love paleo, but I hate that I have to keep myself tongue tied about it. I hate watching others work so hard to meet these fitness goals, but if they change the way they eat and keep it simple whole foods, they would find their goals much easier to obtain.
My “shade of paleo” looks different from yours. But the repercussions of eating well and being able to move is HEALTH. Health is without chronic disease. That is why I LOVE paleo and won’t give it up…..sorry….my energy is focused on patience and on learning what to say and when to say it to best help others begin to redefine their health. It's like the Lego....my kids love them and I love watching them create using them...but I HATE picking them up.
Maybe this wasn’t my best post. Maybe you will like it or maybe you won’t. Maybe you’ll share it or maybe you’ll put it in the back of your mind. Either way, it felt good to write it because this energy has to be put somewhere….
Remove Replace Restore
Remove any hesitation about Paleo, Primal, Gluten free
Replace with whole nutrient rich foods to gain health, mental clarity, energy, and appetite for learning. Social awkwardness may be an issue, but it gets better with time.
Restore your personal health.
Eat well. Move well. Sleep well. Thrive on.
Photo credit: ThaQeLa and license
Dr Carolyn Dolan DPT, Cert MDT, MSHN
Where physical therapy, nutrition and lifestyle meet, because how you live your life determines whether or not you soar. Inspiring action with information so you can reduce pain, optimize healing and improve function naturally during recovery from injury, surgery or painful condition. This is a website for the open-minded; obstinate need not apply.