I thought it was time to write about how I am actually feeling and doing on Paleo. It has been nearly 6 months since I started my own personal Paleo journey. It's been 3 months since my whole family has been eating Paleo. Since I started in October, I have lost a total of 25 lbs!!! My husband has lost 31 lbs since he started January 1st and has lowered his cholesterol enough to come off his statin drugs! I have noticed huge behavior changes in my 3-year-old daughter since we took gluten, sugar, and dairy out of her diet. And my 8 month old son, who weighed in at 20lbs a month ago, is thriving, happy, content and such a joy to be around. He eats everything I give him. His recent favorites are Paleo chicken nuggets, roasted asparagus, and grilled squash.
So I'm going to show my current before and after pictures. Seeing these are motivation in itself to keep going!
I tell people all the time that I feel amazing. I really do. There is no other way to describe how I feel with our new lifestyle. I have so much energy throughout the day…much needed energy since I'm chasing around a highly energetic 3-year-old and an 8 month old army crawler! My mind feels clearer. I haven't had a headache since I started Paleo. This is now such a part of our life that I NEVER want to go back to what we were before. It's become second nature and easy.
Do I cheat? Hmm, I like to call it indulging and, yes, I do indulge once a week on one meal. This week I had chips, dip, and Mojitos with my girlfriends and it was GREAT! Last week I had wings and pizza.
Do I let my kids cheat? I am not going to be able to watch every, single thing my kids put in their mouth. I'm also not going to be so strict that I don't let them indulge in something that they love. Geez, I do! So, yes, I let my daughter eat gluten snacks at her preschool. I let her Papa give her ice cream every day that we were home a few weeks ago. I let my son have those organic puffs when I see them on sale. Life is too short to not have a little bit of indulgences in our life when it comes to food. You have to be able to find that balance to where you can indulge and be done with it. It took a few months for me to be able to do that without being tempted for more or without my body telling me I need more.
Do I workout? If you mean “going to the gym working out”, then no. I just love to be home with my kids. Our mornings are so great together and Frankie is in such a routine with his morning nap that I just don't even want to mess that up. However, I am on my feet ALL day. So, I wouldn't say that I don't exercise, I just don't do strenuous exercise. And I'm ok with that. Obviously my body is ok with that because I'm losing weight. I cannot devote the time to do any kind of crazy workout schedule, that's why I could never do a diet that requires me to. Another reason why I love Paleo. It works with your body like nature intended.
What the heck do I eat if I can't have gluten, diary, or sugar? LOTS!!! I have so many different types of new foods these last few months that I have never tried! I used to just make side salads to go with dinners before we were eating Paleo, but now I am making so many different types of vegetable dishes! We've had things like: coconut-almond green beans, roasted Brussel sprouts, kale chips, marinated and roasted beets, creamy cucumbers, mashed cauliflower, cauliflower rice, spaghetti squash, squash fries, sweet potato chips, roasted turnips, parsnip fries, leeks, fennel salads, Jicama home fries, and SO MUCH MORE! Does that sound restrictive to you? Eating Paleo has opened up my eyes to so many new kinds of foods. Once you get out of the “American” way of thinking that every meal needs bread, or that sweets can't taste good without sugar, you can really start to see that there is so much more to food than starch and sugar. Eating Paleo has also liberated me. I have gone through times where I was obsessed about the number of calories I ate, or the amount of fat something had in it. I now know that fat-free means LOADED with sugar…and that fat is not bad for us. I have lost 25lbs eating fat. I eat lots of fat. I cook with coconut oil liberally. I eat avocados. I don't feel guilty for reaching for a 3rd or 4th piece of bacon. I even sometimes don't trim the fat on our steak off. Fat is good. Our brains are mostly fat. Our bodies need fat.
Do I spend more money on food every week? If you are comparing our weekly budget to what I spent when I was crazy couponing a few years ago, then yes. I spend much more. If you compare our budget to what I spent when we were eating real, unprocessed (but not completely Paleo) foods, then no. I spend the same. Thankfully, I do not have to be really strict with our budget. We are extremely frugal in many areas of our life. We buy everything used. We sell things we don't use. I also try to live very naturally, so I make a lot of our cleaning and daily hygiene products from scratch. If we spend more than $100 one week, I don't freak out. I spent $150 this week, which is on the higher end of what I spend weekly, however, we needed things like toilet paper, a few cleaning products, and paper towels (which we mostly use for the animals and our new, litter-training kitty is burning through them). I haven't been able to convince my husband to give up toilet paper yet!
Do I eat all organic? Nope. In fact, I would venture to say that I eat mostly “un”organic. I do get organic vegetables IF they are on sale. We do eat grass-fed beef because we bought a whole cow and split it with a few families keeping 1/4th of the cow for ourselves. This costs us $4.50lb and will last us all year. I sometimes find pastured chickens on sale at a nearby grocery store and I snag a few. Thankfully, we don't have to worry about dairy anymore. I buy the So Delicious or Silk brand of coconut milk for my daughter to drink a few times during the day and for us also to use in our smoothies. I transitioned my daughter from raw cow milk to coconut milk when we went Paleo. Our eggs come from a local farmer (the same one we get our grass-fed beef from) that has free-range chickens and costs $2.50 dozen. We go through about 10 dozen eggs a month.
How do I feed my working husband? I boil eggs every week for him to grab. I have fruit always handy and ready to grab on the way out the door. I make a larger dinner and he takes the leftovers to work for lunch. I make hash, egg cupcakes, meat and spinach muffins for quick breakfasts on the go.
How do I have time to cook 3 meals a day and spend time with my kids? We eat easy breakfasts together. I grab our griddle throw things on it for breakfasts like eggs, bacon, sausage, or ham lunch meat. If we don't have a griddle breakfast, then I usually make a smoothie for everyone. Even my 8 month old enjoys these. I always have frozen bananas or strawberries on hand and I just make a simple smoothie. I sometimes sneak in coconut oil, flax-seed, or raw egg yolks for added nutrition.
What do we drink? That's easy…LOTS of water and an occasional milk. Me and my husband take a Fiberblend every night and we use apple juice for that (only because we CANNOT take it without juice…it's really disgusting, like dirt). Our 3-year-old loves her coconut milk and I give her that about twice a day.
What do we snack on? Honestly, we don't snack anymore. Our 3-year-old does, but me and my husband find that our protein and veggie packed meals really keep us full for a long time. For my 3-year-old I keep beef jerky, nuts, fruit leather, and fresh fruit on hand for when she is hungry. Her preschool teacher had a little meeting with me last week and told me that she has never seen a 3-year-old eat so much and so many kinds of healthy foods. She agreed that kids will eat what you give them, especially if you start them off right when they are young, like we did with Arianna. If interested, you can see some great kid lunch ideas on my Pinterest page: http://pinterest.com/jackieritz/arianna-s-lunches/ .
So there…there's a look inside some of our Paleo life. I hope it helps you, encourages you, and motivates you to make some changes in your life, or to continue on the path you are on!