Does Paleo REALLY work? It isn't working for me!

Are you one of the surprisingly large group of people who have followed all the Paleo rules but still haven't gotten the results you want?

It can be very disheartening to put in a lot of time and effort - not to mention give up a lot of your favourite foods - just to find that you aren't losing weight or are still suffering from the same health problems and don't seem to be getting any better.  

When you read all the success stories, see all the photos of smiling, happy, and FIT people, while you aren't getting anywhere it can make you feel like you are all alone in the world.  The only person for whom this is NOT working.

But if you are finding yourself starting to think this way - you're wrong.  Now, after years of popularity and many many Paleo success stories, we are starting to see that there is indeed another side to this coin.  Not EVERYONE is successful when they try Paleo.  In fact quite a few people are not. Not on the first try anyway.

There are of course many reasons for this.  You might have sensitivities to foods like dairy or eggs that others can eat quite easily.  You might have health problems or take medication that makes losing weight more of a challenge.  Or you simply might just not be following the rules correctly.  It's easy to do, even with the best of intentions. 

Everyone is different and unfortunately we don't come with instruction manuals so a lot of what we are doing is trial and error.  The lucky ones seem to find what works a lot easier than others.  Some of us are still looking - and getting very discouraged with the whole process.

Life isn't fair.  We all know that.  But these days we are a lot luckier than all the generations that came before us because we have the Internet.  We have access to the best information.

Yes, it can be too much sometimes, even if we have it all online and not in some huge library of books.  But the answers are out there.  

Unfortunately sometimes it seems like there are too many of them and it can start to feel like you are being pulled in all directions .....

.....  Should you try this plan or that one?  Which one will work and which is a waste of time?  I can't give you the answer to that I'm afraid because it's different for everyone.  But I can give you some direction and hopefully that will be enough to get you on track to where you want to go. 

There are many things you can try if you are having problems, and keeping a food log is the first. You can't know where you are going wrong without keeping track.  You don't need anything fancy.  You can keep track in your daily planner or just get a small notebook to keep in your pocket or purse.  Just make sure to write down everything that passes your lips and then review it every few days to make sure you are actually eating what you think you are eating.

You can also try following one of the many Paleo food plans that are available.  Mark Sisson has a menu plan that will help you with Primal Paleo that you can check out here, Primal Blueprint Meal Plan and there are others available as well, but to be absolutely honest, I do see some problems with this approach. 

I personally find following someone else's plan not that great.  There are always some things that I really don't want to eat, and eating something you don't like will make sticking to any plan that much harder. 

What I suggest is you use the menu plans as a source of ideas for the kinds of meals to eat, when to eat, and how much.  What do they suggest for breakfast, lunch and dinner?  Do they suggest any desserts or snacks?  And how does this compare to what you've been eating?  Just doing a comparison like this might bring to light problems with what you've been eating that you didn't know existed, and give you some ideas for changes that you can make. 

There are usually also suggestions for recipes included with these plans that you can use.  There are also some great cookbooks and step by step books available such as these that Mark has published. 

The Primal Blueprint 21 Day Total Body Transformation
Primal Blueprint Quick & Easy Meals

And of course I have a step by step series as well that you might want to check out.  It's really a guide to all the information on this blog and allows you to learn everything you need to know step by step without getting information overload.  Here is the link to the first book.  

As you know if you read this blog on a regular basis, I follow Mark Sisson's Primal Paleo plan and this blog is based on it.  The main difference between this and other Paleo plans is that I do use dairy occasionally, and I do allow myself the occasional non Paleo treat as well.  I find that as long as I do this in true moderation it works for me.  

But for many people even this slight deviation may be enough to put them totally off track.  You might be one of those people who need a more restrictive approach - at least until you get things going, and if this is the case I have another suggestion for you. Much as I personally love Mark's approach, if you are having problems making Paleo work for you I strongly recommend you check out the Wahls Protocol.

Just in case you have been living in a cave for the last decade, Dr. Terry Wahls famously rid herself of a major disease by taking up a Paleo diet, and she gave a very popular TED talk on the subject that went viral. ( You can watch it here. )  

But she didn't just do ordinary Paleo.  Her goal was to get as much nutrition as possible, therefore she researched and chose foods that would be the most health promoting.  

In her book she gives very specific directions for 3 versions of her plan from the simplest to the most advanced.  As well as the usual Paleo rules - no grains, legumes or processed foods - you will need to give up all dairy and eggs.  And you will also need to eat a lot of vegetables - she tells you very specifically which ones and how much.  

You can start with the simplest plan and that might be just enough to make the difference for you.  If not there are two other versions you can progress to.  Each is a little harder to do, but if it gives you the results you are looking for then it's worth doing don't you think?  And even though at first it might look very daunting, the food is actually very tasty and quite easy to get used to.  Yes, I have tried these plans myself so I speak from experience.

So if you are finding yourself discouraged right now, don't despair.  There IS hope.  Paleo can work for you.  You just need to find the version that is right for you. 

Try the Wahls Protocol. It isn't easy, but it IS doable.  If you really stick to it, one of her plans is bound to work for you, and once you finally achieve the results you are looking for it will all have been worth it.

By the way, the beautiful photographs I have used in this post are by talented Flickr photographer Steven Guzzardi.  If you want to see some really beautiful creative work check out his link here.

 “Life isn't about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself.”   - George Bernard Shaw


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My West Coast Patio Garden - July update

This year my garden was an experiment and, as often happens with experiments, it didn't turn out quite the way I expected.

We had a very unseasonal spring with lots of cold damp weather, and all my plants really suffered. Most were stunted, and the ones that survived the frost ended up being attacked by mould.  I think I probably put them in too early.  My bad.

Gardening is usually a constant learning process and even if you've gardened for many years as I have, you can still go very wrong.  Especially when you are gardening in a new climate.

So like all gardeners often have to do, I'm making the best of a bad situation.

The only plants that did well were my lemon tree - surprisingly - and my herbs.  My lemon tree had a huge amounts of flowers and now still looks very healthy - though I don't think there are any lemons.

My herbs have done very well too, but I think that's only because I ended up bringing them inside.  I'm lucky that my office windows get great light so they are really quite perfect for growing plants.  I even added a small lavender plant so I can surround myself with nice scent year round.

I am not quite finished for this year though.  I still have a few ideas up my sleeve, and once I've got a few things in place and planted again I'll do another update. Meanwhile I hope you are all having a much more productive year in your gardens than I am!

Life isn't about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself.”   - George Bernard Shaw


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Is Quinoa Paleo?

photo by nerissa's ring

Quinoa is a very popular grain alternative, and many may wonder whether it fits into the Paleo lifestyle. This is what Mark has to say :

While the Primal Blueprint recommends avoiding grains and higher glycemic foods altogether, at some point or another most of us partake in the context of occasional compromise.

There are a lot of great recipes using Quinoa.  Here is one of my favourite - Italian style quinoa cakes from

You can get the recipe here.

In this post Mark also has a video on how to prepare a spicy quinoa dish, so he isn't opposed to it's occasional use - as long as you are aware of it's limitations. Here, from another post on Mark's website, he warns us :

Obviously, like everything else, quinoa has it's pros and cons, but for a lot of people, this is a great grain alternative to at least explore.

I will leave you with one last recipe from Keith McDuffee.  This one is for pesto quinoa with shrimp and baby spinach - looks delicious.  If you want to try it you can get the recipe here.

 “Life isn't about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself.”   - George Bernard Shaw


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My West Coast Patio Square Foot Garden

If you follow my blog you will know that I'm a big fan of square foot gardening.  This is a terrific method of getting as many vegetables as possible from a small place - and nowhere is this more important than when you are gardening on a balcony or patio.

I've recently moved to the West Coast where the weather is thankfully much milder than in the East, and where gardening can start much earlier.  Even though I live in a condo now instead of the large house I had for several decades, I am looking forward to the challenge of seeing how much I can grow.

As you can see above, even though my old Ontario village is just getting rid of the last of the winter snow, I've already made a good start on my garden.

And, as usual, I am always looking for things that will make my life a little bit easier.

While checking out local seed companies looking for small varieties that would be suitable for container growing, I found a great option for anyone wanting to grow a square foot garden in any size spot.  These new (or at least new to me) products look like the perfect apartment or condo dwellers answer to growing a garden in a very limited amount of room.

As you can see the idea is pretty ingenious.  You don't have to worry about heavy pots.  These are sturdy canvas-type bags which, when filled, give you exactly one square foot of planting area, allowing you to have whatever size garden you have room for.  They are easy to manoeuvre and, if need be, can always be emptied and folded away when the growing season is over.

As well, to allow for proper drainage, there are special mats that you can buy to put under these containers.  These will elevated them of your deck (or bench in my case) and allow water to drain so your plants don't become water logged.  They also protect your deck or bench from rot caused by standing water. 

I have four of these square containers for my salad garden.  One contains spinach and radishes, one mixed salad greens, one baby Tom Thumb butter lettuce, and one kale.  And as you can see they are already growing well.

In fact I just harvested my first crop today - rosy juicy radishes for my lunch salad!

You can get something very similar here. Smart Pots 5-Gallon Smart Pot Soft-Sided Container, Black  As you can see these are great for growing any kind of vegetable, not just salad.

I also have a large tall pot Tusco Products CTU32ES Cosmopolitan Tall Square Garden Planter, 32-Inch, Espresso that can be used both for larger plants or as a garden pot.  I use it for my lemon tree which I will be bringing in for the winter as well, but it would also be suitable for any vegetable and would really look nice especially on a balcony.

To round out my garden I also have two pots of tomatoes - one beefsteak and one cherry- and I already have a few flowers starting to form.

And of course I've planted a big pot of basil - for what good are tomatoes without basil and pesto?!?

 The second innovation I found for my patio garden are these great herb pots. Algreen 15305 Self Watering Modena Windowsill Planter and Herb Garden, Gloss Black They are not cheap, but they will allow me to grown herbs outside in the summer and inside on my sunny window in the winter so I can have them year round. 

They consist of three parts.  An inner container for planting, and outer shell for holding water, and a guage that tells you when your plants have dried out and need more water.  I can see this being especially helpful in the winter when the indoor heating makes it easy for plants to dry out if you don't watch them carefully. 

Of course as far as I'm concerned a garden isn't complete unless there are also flowers - to attract bees and also to cut for the home - which is why I consider myself very lucky to have found this lovely spot where there are already many flowering plants and bushes.

My contribution has been to plant three pots of roses that I've placed on my steps where they get lots of sun and are thriving in this west coast English-style weather.

Finally, I want to tell you about another product that I wouldn't want to be without.  This plastic watering can made in England Bosmere N570 Plastic Outdoor Watering Can, 2.6-Gallon, Blue is light weight but holds a lot of water - perfect when you need to cart water outside to water plants.  The watering head is removable and stores on the special hook so you can either have the sprinkler head or just pour out of the spout.

I have it in the usual green, but it also comes in light blue and - if you want a real splash of colour - red. 

Even though I no longer have the large vegetable garden I used to have, I am looking forward to still doing a bit of gardening.  I will post an update once a month or so because I want you all to see what can be done even if you are working with a very limited space.

 “Life isn't about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself.”   - George Bernard Shaw


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