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Getting Back on the Boat – How to Recover From a Paleo Fall-Out

54 Comments

You see and hear it all the time. It happens to the best of us, because in reality we are all human! Let’s start this out with a “hypothetical” story, (keep in mind the person in this story is in no way, shape, or form me…). Let’s say there’s this new frozen yogurt joint in town. It’s got 14 different flavors everyday AND you get to serve yourself; mixing up all kinds of crazy concoctions. The real beauty part – the stuff is gluten free, so even though the “hypothetical person” in this story, (not me), is celiac, she, (not me again), can still have it. Now, for all practical purposes this person’s diet is about as Paleo as you can get, but she’s, (it could be a guy too…), got this weak spot for creamy cold ice cream like treats. When this place opened she, (once again – NOT ME), couldn’t resist and everyday for a week went back to try a new flavor. (She had coupons and they were going to expire…). This person knew that she probably shouldn’t have went every day, (there was always the option of sharing the coupons), but did anyway. On or about day two she decided that the standard five-ounce size was just stupid. If she was going to ‘jump ship’ she might as well “go big or go home”. So, the larger size it was for the rest of the week. At the end of this frozen fiasco, (the coupons ran out…), she knew it was time to get back on the boat, but it was so far away…

We’ll finish that story in just a little bit. Now, how many of you have been in this type of situation? Maybe it was beer, pizza, Twinkies, or all of the above. Maybe you ‘jumped ship’ for a couple days, weeks, months, or years and can’t even see the boat anymore. What now? Well, the first step is to FOCUS. Stop feeling bad about what you can’t change – it’s done. Make a plan or get someone to “throw you a life preserver” – (or even a pair of those little arm floaties). It’s time to make a plan. Sit down and map it out – write it down. If you need help and/or accountability get it, (that’s what Robb’s Dream Team, friends, and family are for). Once you have a plan it’s time to put your head down and start swimming. It might not be perfect at first – it takes a little time to perfect your stroke; but whatever you do don’t give up. Soon you’ll be able to see the boat again and before long it’ll be “smooth sailing”. There will be obstacles and moments when your ‘stroke’ is less than perfect. Additionally, there are going to be times when the ‘water is rough’ and when you just want to ‘jump in for a quick swim’. It’s okay – you’re human! With a new focus and plan you can always get back on. Keep in mind that the longer you stay in water the farther away the boat will drift. Keep it in sight and if it starts to disappear put your head down and start swimming!

Back to the story… So, did the “hypothetical person” swim back to the boat or drown in the sea? What do you think? Let me give you a hint – she’s drying off right now! So, follow my – I mean her, lead and swim like you’ve never swam before.

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  1. jeff
    June 29, 2011 at 7:34 am

    Hey robb,

    I don’t know if this is the right place for this, but I don’t see your email listed on the site. Probably getting far to many emails from all the life changing advice you are giving people.

    Just wanted to let you know, that reading science section of your book where you talk about insulin, leptin, cortisol, glucagon, and lectin’s, changed my life. I have dieted throughout my life and never found anything that wasn’t pure torcher. After weening myself off of excessive carbohydrates and moving to a no processed food diet as you recommend I was able to lose 35lbs so far and almost completely eliminate my chronic dry skin, and sinusitis. At 30 years old I feel the healthiest i’ve ever felt and I owe it to your book. I’m sure you get stories like this all the time, but I just figured one more can’t hurt.

    Keep up the great work.

  2. Peggy The Primal Parent
    June 29, 2011 at 8:50 am

    Like you, or I mean that girl, ice cream is a weakness for me – one of my few weaknesses these days. Ice cream doesn’t affect me terribly (as long as I don’t eat any ice cream with stabilizers – no guar gum or carrageenan for me). I can go on eating ice cream for way too long because it doesn’t make me feel all that bad. I tend to eat a little too much, like a whole pint, and then I’m super jittery from all the sugar, but once that wears off, I’m fine. I’ve struggled with a slew of nasty symptoms from health problems my whole life but ice cream doesn’t seem to bring them back.

    Anyway, the hardest thing about falling off the wagon is not seeing any ill effects from it. Kinda makes you wonder…

    • Crunchy Pickle
      June 30, 2011 at 2:40 pm

      Same here! I have been at my sister’s wedding where non-paleo foods abound and it is so tempting to give into ice cream when so many other treats are off limits because they are more destructive to my health. In daily life it isn’t nearly as tough as when it is all in front of you at multiple social functions. Time to get my head back in the game!!

    • Barb
      June 30, 2011 at 4:00 pm

      I agree… you can “fall off the wagon” and not really see any ill effects from it… at least, not right away. For me, the ill effects take a while to show up, but they always do and take the form of aches in the joints, weight gain and energy highs and lows…

    • JAlanKatz
      July 2, 2011 at 8:45 am

      In my opinion, ice cream is a great thing to desire – it shows that, even when you want to cheat, you’re thinking high-fat, creamy, rather than sweet. During the summer, I like to prevent it by making my own ice cream, which, since I’m not a sweet person, tastes better to me than the real stuff. Grass-fed cream, pastured eggs, sometimes some nut butter, maybe a bit of real vanilla (if you insist, stevia, but I usually don’t do it) in the ice cream maker works out perfectly. It freezes a bit hard, but leave it out for 5 minutes – it won’t get all crystally the way real ice cream does.

  3. Omnomnivore
    June 29, 2011 at 9:35 am

    You’re right! Sometimes all it takes to recover from falling off the boat is being told you can. It’s not all over just because you slipped up, even if it sometimes seems that way.

  4. Mary
    June 29, 2011 at 9:48 am

    I so needed to read this today…thanks!

  5. Adam
    June 29, 2011 at 10:03 am

    Great story Amy!
    I agree, we are all human, and jump off the boat some times. I like your never give up mentality. :)

  6. Matt
    June 29, 2011 at 10:50 am

    Amy,
    Thanks for this, it is very timely. A close friend of mine (definetly not me) has been on a pizza and kettle corn binge the last two days (nothing is better than cold pizza in the morning after hot pizza in the evening, from what I hear). I (I mean he) was less in need of a life preserver than worried that he was going to grow his own.

    He is back swimming again.

    Thanks again!

    • Amy Kubal
      June 29, 2011 at 1:52 pm

      Adam, tell your ‘friend’ to keep ‘fighting the current’! The harder you (I mean he), swims the less likely growing a permanent life preserver becomes!!

  7. Patrick
    June 29, 2011 at 11:01 am

    Definitely been in this situation. Last year I first tried a low carb paleo-ish way of eating and had good success with it in weight loss and body re-composition. Then about 3 months in, maybe not coincidentally when work was getting a little stressful (a lot?), and fell off the boat to the extent I couldn’t even see the wake of the boat. Doesn’t help that I work in a movie theater so I sit most of the day next to the concession stand within easy reach of Snickers, Kit Kat and so forth.
    The same thing, more or less, happened when I was able to get back on track with low carb in September. After a couple of months, which puts it right around Thanksgiving, I had the same fall-off-the-boat situation. Face down in the concession stand.

    I am back to low carb and now and pretty much completely paleo in my eating for the last month (low carb for a month before that). I have even weaned myself off from artificial sweeteners (diet sodas, sugar free gum and jello).

    Are there any strategies to help avoid falling off the boat to begin with? I am a little worried because I’m coming up on that 2 to 3 month period and I’d really like to avoid it this time around. I’ve been trying to slowly ramp up my carbs a little bit as I had been eating generally less than 20g per day. I’d like to get up a little closer to 50g per day just in case part of my problem is having my carbs TOO low.
    Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    • Amy Kubal
      June 29, 2011 at 2:02 pm

      Patrick,
      One of the keys to staying on the boat is ‘getting your feet wet’ once and awhile. Plan your ‘swims’ and ENJOY them. Don’t fall into the ‘all or nothing’ mentality. When a ‘big fish’ stops tasting like the best thing ever – stop eating it. Maybe that means a whole Kit Kat or just one piece of it. If you’d like to talk about your diet let me know! I can help you figure it all out. And remember, it’s okay to ‘let your feet get a little wet’ every once and awhile!

      • Patrick
        June 29, 2011 at 2:52 pm

        Thanks Amy. I may take you up on that. I definitely need to find a way to not be “all or nothing” about it. It makes it pretty easy to jump in, once the mood hits me, but also makes it easy to sink into the ocean too.

  8. Richard
    June 29, 2011 at 11:56 am

    Haha that is a funny story and so true. Just get back up and keep going if a fall down.

  9. Nita
    June 29, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    Years ago, I remember reading a story about a man who was in violation of some city ordinance or another, and he was being fined something like $45 per day for every day he wasn’t in compliance with the law. That’s pretty much how I see my diet on a daily basis.

    Every day, every meal, every item that passes my lips is either in line with what I know makes me feel good, or eventually, I’ll end up paying a price for it. And that price multiplies the more often I eat things I know I shouldn’t.

    Sometimes, it might be worth it to pay a little fine for the things you want. No biggie. But when the price starts getting too high, just remember where you left that paleo boat parked.

    • Amy Kubal
      June 29, 2011 at 2:04 pm

      Nita, that is a great analogy! Thanks for sharing!

  10. Vicarious
    June 29, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    Thanks for posting this timely article. I completed the 30 day Paleo challenge back in March/April with great results, but a planned week of relaxation has turned into several months of totally non-paleo eating, where I’ve ballooned right back up to where I was before the 30 day challenge. I’m looking forward to getting pack on Paleo – I felt so much better, slept better, and even started getting compliments from friends and family that I was looking better. Thanks for the reminder that it is NOT too late for me to deal with the past and get back on track to health and fitness!

    • Amy Kubal
      June 29, 2011 at 2:05 pm

      Vicarious, it’s time to start swimming!! You can do it!

  11. Ben
    June 29, 2011 at 2:55 pm

    Amy, so true it can be easy to jump ship. Hopefully we have friends and family that can get us back on board quickly!

  12. Primal Toad
    June 29, 2011 at 3:39 pm

    You got it! FOCUS! One needs to completely put the past behind them. Some will say this is a challenge. Maybe it is. But at least try! Forget about it. Move on. Look at where you are right at this very moment! Live in the moment. Quick thinking about the past or the future.

    FOCUS on the NOW!

  13. Ian
    June 30, 2011 at 2:34 am

    Does everyone remember their mothers cooking? I don’t think anyone ever finds cooking as good ever again, (not that I would admit that to my wife!). I especially remember my mothers ginger cake which is certainly *not* paleo!

    Well, after three months of being paleo, and keeping my feet dry pretty much all of that time, my mother decides to send me two huge ginger cakes, the first time she has done that in over 20 years!

    The first of them went within the week, a large slice each time I came home from work. My consession to paleo? I made sure it was covered in grass-fed (Kerrygold) butter.

    The second ginger cake went into the freezer. I know it is there waiting for the next time I take the plunge back into the cold water, but at least I can’t get at it immediately, it has to thaw first!

    I am now back on the boat, but even now I can hear that second ginger cake calling to me!

  14. Dave
    June 30, 2011 at 4:52 am

    Hi Amy,

    Not to be a nit-pick, but what is the point of this post? You offer no tips other than some cursory psycho-babble rah rah you go girl get back on track assertions. How about the BEST way to get back on track after being a massive FAILEO! Some CONCRETE suggestions. What to eat? To fast or not? Mainline omega 3 for a few days for inflammation? Bump up supplements? Which ones? This post COULD have been so much better. Love your stuff and all the great work you and the team do! :-)

    • Amy B.
      June 30, 2011 at 10:05 am

      I dunno…

      I understand what you’re saying, and yes, some tips about *how* to get back on track might have been useful. But I think the main point of the post was that it’s NOT a major trauma to recover from if you “fall off the wagon” for a bit. Let’s try to see food as food, and not something to punish ourselves for. Is it good to eat junk for a meal, a day, a week, or a few months? No, of course not. But on the other hand, I don’t think it’s healthy to adopt an attitude of “compensating” for some off days.

      Megadosing on fish oil, fasting…probably the single best thing to do is just GET BACK TO THE CORRECT REAL FOODS ASAP. Don’t get me wrong. I do understand the concept of “damage control,” but I think the point of this post is to make people *less* neurotic about things, not more.

      Sorry this sounds so harsh. I don’t mean to. If you really want to nitpick, the best actions to take in terms of reserving the damage probably depend on what it is you’ve been eating. (Tons of sugar vs. tons of omega-6 oils, for example. Fasting might be better in one case, omega-3s in the other.) The general message is, you already *know* what you need to do. (Stop eating cr@p, stop kidding yourself, start eating real, wholesome foods, and start moving your body.) Now go do it.

      • Amy B.
        June 30, 2011 at 10:07 am

        Oops…that was supposed to be “reversing” the damage.

      • Amy Kubal
        July 2, 2011 at 2:43 pm

        Thanks Amy B! That’s exactly where I was going with this post!

    • Amy Kubal
      June 30, 2011 at 10:17 am

      Dave,
      The main point of this post was to let the readers know that it is possible to recover from a ‘bad run’ and serve as a reminder that it’s never too late to start swimming back to the boat. How BEST to get back on track – is FOCUS. What that looks like for you might be completely different than what it looks like for someone else. What to eat? How about just try paleo foods, if you are looking for hard, fast, miracle cures – unfortunately there are none. And witout knowing the nature of the ‘swim’ it’s difficult to make recommendations. How long have you been in the water, what are you currently doing, etc? If you need help coming up with a plan for you – that’s what we’re here for and we’d love to help you!

  15. Brenden
    June 30, 2011 at 5:11 am

    Ice Cream is my weakness and with summer here in Manitoba Canada It has been my “ship jumping” food.
    Thanks for the encouragement, keep fighting the good fight!

  16. Laura
    June 30, 2011 at 7:29 am

    PERFECT timing :) I’ve been pretty strict (95%) paleo for a few weeks now and went out last night with some friends. I ended up having a couple nachos, a beer, & some dessert and was practically doubled over in pain by the end of the night. Hard to believe I had nights like these 3-4x a week without thinking twice about it. Sometimes you just need a night like this to remind yourself why you eat the way you do and how foods like this can really effect you!

  17. Gina
    June 30, 2011 at 11:18 am

    I laughed through the whole first paragraph!!!Thank goodness there is no “Yogurtland” (that’s what your referring to I’m sure!!) within 20 miles of my house because I know your hypothetical person is me in the event one opened near by!!! (he he!!)I secretly dream of that place. They have Toasted Coconut frozen yogurt and you have the 40 choice toppings including fresh mangos, blueberries, kiwi, strawberries ect. and all kinds of nuts….its really hard to resist Red Velvelt Cake frozen yogurt thats gluten free when your strictly Paleo, and honestly I don’t. If thats one of my cheats every few months I pass this place, I do it for my own sanity. Thanks for the tummy work!!

  18. PaleoCat
    August 7, 2012 at 10:14 am

    When my friends want to go to the yogurt shop, it is the one place I will readily go with them. I select the smallest cup and fill it half way with berries and mango and then top it with toasted almonds. The shop in my town does not add sugar to the fruit, and while it is probably are not organic, I can have a treat with friends that is still within my paleo world. I just lighten up on fruit the next day.

  19. Jo
    May 26, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    Thanks. I really need to get back on track. It’s been a little over a week and I totally fell off the Paleo boat. I’ve been eating pizza, ice cream, bread, potatoes, beans, pasta. Its horrible and the sad part is that I know it’s psychological because I’m not even really craving these foods. I was doing so great and then I had some physical and emotional setbacks which gave met he excuses to lead me to this. I really felt I needed the foods to numb what I was going through and they did help to some extent but I can feel the pounds creeping back on and I know I need to get back to my goals. I really wish I know how to get myself focused and motivated again.

  20. Jackie
    October 26, 2013 at 6:10 pm

    I’ve been off the wagon for quite some time… Ever since I had my son (20 months ago!) so it’s time I get back on. Good read. I am human and don’t feel (too) guilty if I indulge but my body is mad at me! :) thanks Robb!

    • Amy Kubal
      October 27, 2013 at 4:17 am

      I’m glad my post helped you! :)

  21. Kim
    April 8, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    Thank you for this post. I was doing Paleo nearly 100% and then 80% and then…well, you get the picture. Now I’m 100% back to old habits. It seemed silly to keep saying no to bread when everything else was back on my plate. I dropped 33 lbs in just a few months. AMAZING! I felt so good and saying no to crappy food was SO easy! But then..I don’t know what happened?! Coffee with sugar eiched it’s way back in, WITH sugar and cream… I’m having a really hard time. Clothes are feeling snug again. I don’t “glow” like I was. I feel terrible and yet I can’t seem to flip the switch and get back in the same train of thought at all….poof! gone! depressed and discouraged big time… I do like your post and the visual of seeing “the boat” I can still see it in the distance :) I will try tonight what you said. Make a plan, hit the store for my “good” and yummy food that I really grew to love. It is good to know I’m not alone. Thanks so much!

  22. Amy Kubal
    June 30, 2011 at 10:07 am

    Thanks for the repost!!

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