Monday, June 17th, 2013
Written by: Andi Cohen
My husband was the first to switch to Paleo- after experiencing a heart attack and heart catheterization….and realizing he’d put on close to 40 pounds. I think his moment was in the ER when his blood pressure was skyrocketing and some 12 year old doctor came in and gave him a blood pressure pill. He asked how long he’d have to be on the pills and the doctor replied, “For the rest of your life.”
So, he started as a New Years resolution and actually stuck to it. Looking back, I had allowed myself- and my family- to fall into the “I’m a busy working mom of 2 so I need fast (meaning quick) dinners” mindset. Lots of pasta. Always white bread, lots of bready meals made with pop-open tube pizza dough, you get the point. My husband started simply grilling steaks. The added bonus to this was: I got to cook less! We got a cast-iron grill pan, so he just grilled on the stove top many cold nights too. We ditched the pop tarts and he started cooking eggs and bacon for breakfast. More steak or chicken for lunch, salads, boiled eggs, almonds, sweet potatoes, he kept it really simple.
He quickly started losing weight and started exercising at Crossfit Blackbox.
Meanwhile I was trying to lose a few pounds too; I’m also a Zumba instructor and felt like a hypocrite: how am I supposed to tell people to come take my class to lose weight when I’m pudgy and self conscious? I started trying to go Paleo- and had a couple of failed attempts. I’d eat a paleo breakfast, and then a non Paleo lunch and then the cycle of craving bread and crackers and pizza would overtake me. It finally hit me one night that I was the reluctant spouse- I felt like a sabateur and annoyed that my husband could just “stop” eating crap and I couldn’t. Then I realized- it was an addiction. I wasn’t weak. I started reading up on Paleo and decided to just do it. That first day I ate eggs and bacon with a pile of sauteed mushrooms and onions. Veggie snacks (I love those bags of sweet mini peppers… like candy) steak for dinner. Some macadamia nuts. The first night I realized, Now that wasn’t so bad! I took it one day at a time.
I dropped about 6 pounds the first week. Added bonus was sleep: normally I’d be up till midnight playing on the computer. Suddenly at 10 pm I’d hit the wall- fast and hard. I had been sweating at night during my sleep and thought it was hormones- turned out to be wheat and processed crap. I noticed that eventually my PMS symptoms just vanished. My random joint pains- that I attributed to wearing high heels, poor posture, aging… was from peanuts, of all things. (I cheated one night and ate spoonfuls of regular peanut butter- BAM the next day, joint pains returned like crazy.)
We had tried to get our 15 year old son to try Paleo but got immediate resistance. I am ashamed as a mother to admit he ate grits on toast for breakfast; PB and J for lunch with goldfish; pasta for dinner…. almost every day. He hated the mouthfeel of chicken and steak and he hated bacon! I figured I’d pick my battles with him- he is a great kid, never any hassles, good grades. So, he’s a picky eater. He’ll grow out of it, right? I gave up nagging him.
A few months later (October), Clay just randomly came to me and said, ‘I think I want to try that diet that Dad’s on.” I said, Ok son, you gotta eat meat. And vegetables. And fruit.” Ok, he said. And just like that he changed his eating habits.
I got rid of the crap in the house. Clay started eating eggs and bacon for breakfast. He tried new vegetables and discovered that he loves spaghetti squash. He ate steak; and chicken; lots of salads; homemade trail mix — cashews, almonds, dried fruit, coconut. After that first day he weighed himself and came out and said, Wow, I lost a pound. So he continued on, and before we knew it, in 17 days he had lost 17 pounds. His skin cleared up in three days- no more teenage acne- he is definitely less grouchy in the morning. He went from 185 to 145 over the course of the next few months.
Clay also became more interested in cooking and reading labels- he is now very in-tune with his hunger and never eats out of boredom or grazes on snacks. Even while at a summer camp he stayed as close to Paleo as possible when everyone else was subsisting on pop tarts for breakfast. There have been a few cheats; and Clay found out the hard way that sugar, (Mountain Dew) and sweet pastry desserts equals a pimple breakout and sleeping through classes two days later. He discovered the direct correlation between food and body. He even works at a donut shop- never eats the inventory. How hard-core is THAT!???
Our daughter came home from college this summer and dropped 10 pounds her first two weeks being home. The college meal plan was not paleo. She has her own apartment next year and she and her roommates plan on living a paleo lifestyle.
So, Paleo has been a life-changer for our family. My husband grills steak or chicken most nights, so I DON’T have to cook! That’s a huge burden lifted off my shoulders and any woman can agree that’s damn sexy when you come home from work and your husband has cooked dinner. (less kitchen cleanup too! no more cheesy casseroles) His blood pressure is better than perfect- did I mention his mother has had multiple heart attacks, genetic high cholesterol, and his father unfortunately passed away from …obesity and its many complications. I credit my husband with saving our family. He inspired us all to improve our health- to DO something about it rather than just wishing it would magically happen. We all lost weight; feel better; look better; our grocery bill is lower as we are not buying cartloads of crap- we are shopping locally and supporting our local egg-layers and farmers- and getting awesome physicals.
I am especially thankful to the 12 year old ER doctor who scared the hell out of Pete. That doctor really saved our family.