We’re gonna start this mini-novel with a story about someone that I know very well (total nutcase, seriously). This individual has been Paleo for about 3-4 years now. She’s definitely not ‘militant paleo’ – but with the exception of an occasional, sane, off-road – pretty darn close. Her training – well that’s kind of a touchy subject. With an endurance background (marathons), and a bout with a combo of CrossFit Endurance, Strength Bias, and normal WOD programming (all at the same time – yes, insane…). This chick’s motto was, “I don’t just train, I over train.” But this too has evolved to be much more under control (although she will admit that exercise is her addiction… we’ve all got something). Even though her diet is clean, she sleeps at least eight hours every night, her training is moderating, and for the most part she keeps stress fairly low (as low as a Type A can manage) she still isn’t ‘fixed’. Seriously, I thought this Paleo thing was supposed to work, right?? Well, that’s what she said… (And yes, in case you’re wondering, this is me – throwing myself under the bus for your entertainment once more.)
Does my story sound familiar? Are you one of the three people out there that aren’t paleo miracles, or did it seem like it worked great for a while and then the bottom just kind of fell out? Well, you aren’t alone, and I can tell you right now that this is WAY more common than you think. Many of us go into Paleo thinking that it’s going to cure EVERYTHING, and that it’s going to do it FAST. In some cases that happens – these are the success stories that you see posted everywhere. There are tales of weight loss, miraculous healing, and life changing transformations – and yes, these stories are true. But there are a lot of people out there that don’t have one of these earth shattering stories, and believe it or not, these folks aren’t writing to tell the world about changes that aren’t happening. So here I am, taking one for the team.
So, what about the rest of us? Why aren’t we seeing fast and marked changes like ‘everyone’ else? Are we doing it wrong? Well… that’s debatable. In some cases, yeah there might be things that need improvement (throwing myself under the bus here – I need to really be better about controlling my little exercise ‘problem’). Many times we overlook the obvious and it’s important to remember that it’s not just about the food!! Sleep, stress, exercise, PAST history (yes, this is a factor too), health, hormones, and over all lifestyle can make or break even the best of us. Case in point – I just finished a cycle of Flagyl (an antibiotic) to kill three (yes, three) parasites that were happily living in my gut. (This might explain why I am roughly the size of his right bicep…) And then there’s the adrenal damage I did back in my marathon running, insane over training, low fat, high carb, killer day job years… Let’s just say ‘broken’ doesn’t even begin to describe my body.
I was frustrated to say the least – I mean how come I could help so many people get healthy and see the results they’re looking for, but when it came to fixing myself I was SOL?? Seriously, what a total buzz kill, and to be perfectly honest, it was/is embarrassing. I want to look and be healthy – it’s not that I don’t know how to do it, I just hadn’t taken the time to actually figure out what was wrong, or to really evaluate my situation and habits. Anyone out there with me on this? YOU KNOW what you should be doing and you tell yourself that you are, but… (and that’s a BIG but), there are certain things that don’t apply to you, right? You don’t really need 8 hours of sleep, you’ve trained like a freak since high school – those over training rules don’t apply to you, and stress? – you thrive on it, right? And then there’s the food side of things, you’re ‘fine’ with dairy, some alcohol every day or two is totally cool, and that nightly chocolate bar is completely normal too…
I’m not saying that any or all of this applies in your situation, but if you’re not getting better, or if things seem to have taken a turn for the worse, it may be time to reevaluate the situation. Sometimes a pair of outside eyes can help you put things into perspective. When’s the last time you saw a doctor (and I’m not talking about a pill pushing, put a band-aid on it but don’t actually address the problem practitioner), or had labs taken? Just because everything was fine two years ago, it doesn’t mean that things haven’t changed. And remember, your past can (and most likely will) catch up with you. My years of over training, low fat, high carb eating, super stressful jobs and inadequate sleep finally bit me in the rear – and let’s just say they left teeth marks and took a hunk of skin with them… It finally took some outside eyes and a trip to an awesome alternative medicine doctor to ‘get my shit (literally) figured out’. I’ve finally picked up the ball and started dribbling. I haven’t made a slam dunk yet, but I’m working on it.
So, if you’re one of the other 3 people that haven’t reached a state of paleo euphoria – don’t give up! If anything is certain, it’s that you’re definitely helping yourself by eating well, and turning back to a life of SAD food will do you no favors, unless you want to hit rock bottom faster. Take time to evaluate your situation, make an appointment with a good doctor, take a hard look at your ENTIRE lifestyle, and take the advice that you give to others. Because I can tell you first hand, it doesn’t work unless you actually do it. Knowledge is powerful, but without application it’s not going to do much good. A bottle of shampoo ain’t gonna wash your hair by itself – you gotta open it and scrub a little. So quit feeling sorry for yourself – pick up the ball and start moving down court. The defense is playing hard, but if I can breakaway – so can you!
The ball’s in your court – are you gonna shoot??