Friday, July 24, 2015

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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