Every year at my place of employment, we’re asked to do a wellness screening. It’s required for our health insurance, so of course I obliged. But really, truly it is fascinating to me. The screening is a full-scale lab analysis – measuring levels of white blood cells and cholesterol to things like calcium and sodium in your body. And since I’ve been working here for three years, they do a comparative analysis year after year … also fascinating.
To back up a minute, and give an idea of what my health was like three + years ago …. I was semi-vegan (i’d eat some eggs and some fish here and there), but no meat, no dairy, no sugar, no wheat, pretty much nothing. At this time I also started getting into more high intensity workouts…. my poor body hated it. I went from being decently healthy to feeling like crap. I had developed hypothyroidism, wasn’t sleeping well, could barely walk up the stairs without being completely and utterly fatigued, my skin was a hot mess and I had really extreme bouts of anxiety. It sucked. After doing a ton of research and reading and testing things out, I decided to completely alter my diet.
My “vegan-ish” diet consisted mostly of:
Breakfast: 100 calorie oatmeal packs, apple
Lunch: Iceburg lettuce salad with veggies and 0 calorie dressing and a steamer veggie pack
Snack: Rice cake with some pb2
Dinner: Either another salad and steamer pack or another 100 calorie oatmeal pack and maybe some popcorn
Snack: Hard boiled egg or rice cake
Extremely low in: proper nutrients, fats and protein — high in: carbs and sugars
Workouts consisted of: 3-5 miles + an hour of high-intensity workouts
I knew what I was eating and doing wasn’t enough, my body was telling me that for sure. And then to get my lab-analysis back that first year…. that was a kick in the side. “Thinking” you’re healthy is one thing …. but finding out, that in fact, you’re not …. is a whole other thing.
- Iron levels – in the red
- Protein levels – in the red
- White bloods cells – below average
- Calcium – below average
- Cholesterol – in the red
Amongst a handful of other levels that barely hit the low end of “average”
So fast forward to the last 2-2 1/2 years….I basically pulled a 180.
Like I said before, I did a ton of research, read every book I could get my hands on and eventually started seeking out information on the “Paleo” diet that I’d come across a handful of times. Paleo?!……. that’s like the polar opposite of being vegan. Yup. Damn right it is. But digging into the research, it made sense. And since I wasn’t where I needed to be with my health, it was a what-do-I-have-to-lose situation.
Before I jumped in with both feet, there were a few non-negotiable I set for myself:
- If you’re going to be eating meat, it needs to be limited
- If you’re going to be eating meat, it should not have additives or any other added crap
- If you’re going to eat fat, it has to be good fat
- If you’re going to try something new, be open to it’s potential changes on your body
- Don’t get obsessed
And after two-ish years eating this way, it’s been amazing how my body has responded.
Current diet consists of:
Breakfast: Eggs cooked in coconut oil or ghee, 1/2 sweet potato and maybe some micro greens or a banana
Lunch: Some kind of protein (turkey or chicken usually), with roasted vegetables or over a big salad, maybe some almond butter and a green apple afterwards
Dinner: Some kind of protein, roasted vegetables and potatoes or rice – maybe finish with some chocolate and some red wine or popcorn
Snacks: apples, bananas, almond butter, real protein bars (think RX bars, larabars, etc.), sliced turkey, carrots or peppers, grass-fed protein
High in: protein, fats and healthy amount of good carbs — low in: sugar
Obviously I’m eating WAY more. I’m consuming at least double the amount of calories I had before. Which was a little frightening at first. And I was cooking A LOT more, something that I’ve slowly learned to love. But in all honesty it’s not only that I feel like I’m in the best shape I’ve been in years, but I’m also feeling better than I have in years. And I got to see that in writing on my lab analysis. Everything. EVERYTHING came back 100% leveled. No low marks or “red levels” … everything came back in the green. Sigh. Relief :)
Now, this diet works for me. I find that fats satiate me more than carbs do. That isn’t always true for everyone. Also, I’m not trying to lose a bunch of weight. I’m pretty comfortable where I’m at right now and eating that amount of fat keeps me at a pretty maintained level. Macro levels differ for everyone.
My advice is to not be afraid to experiment with your diet. Mainstream media has a sneaky way of suggesting “diet fads” that simply don’t work. There is no blanket diet that’ll work for every person. Nutrition needs to be customized to that person’s inner makeup, lifestyle and goals. The best part is, all you need is an open mind and the will to try.
Because I’m a nerd and love learning more and more about this type of stuff, I’ve decided to, yet again, jump in with both feet to a 30-day completely customized meal plan. Although a little nerve-wrecking, I’m excited to see what my body’s capable of. The meal plan will be different for me in that it’ll not be strict Paleo (gasp!) — (it will of course be gluten and dairy-free because of my allergies) I’ll be documenting the journey on the blog, on my Instagram and will be doing some live Periscope feeds – so, if you’re interested – make sure to tune in :)