30-Day Challenge Debrief

My results 

Weight: 174.4lb – loss of 4.6 lbs. That’s about 16 lbs from where I was 2 months ago.

Measurements: Overall my inches were down… ranging from .5 to 3 inches lost. I was starting to notice that my pants were looser so this was confirmed by the tape measure. Good feeling!

Skin: Much clearer; still the occasional blemish and overall tone is not that improved, but now that I’m not getting as many zits it seems more manageable and will probably be easier to work on the tone. The improvements to my skin make it very hard to consider going back to eating a lot of grains (this may be delusional, but I don’t think that I really ate that much sugar to start with, so I’m not sure how much of a role sugar played in this improvement).

Energy: Feeling good. Still not a huge difference but no worse than before, and possibly better. I did increase my Vitamin D to 4000IU a short while ago, and am curious to see if that makes a noticeable difference. Also may experiment with cutting back on yogurt and fruit in the am. I guess the other thing is that sometimes it’s hard to tell when things happen gradually.

Joint pain: This is a tricky one because I’ve been getting physio and massage, and when I am good about doing my exercises I feel a lot better. It’s hard to tell what effect my diet has on that.

Random Conclusions & Observations

I already knew that eating well takes effort – not that effort has to be really hard, but it was brought home to me that eating properly is more work than eating poorly. It’s hard to balance that priority with life’s realities: I’m a work-at-home mother to a crazy busy toddler, my husband and I have activities several nights a week, and because family meals are important to us, planning is key. This means I have to schedule grocery shopping, a run to the butcher, and at least make a rough meal plan, or else things start falling apart and we eat crazy pantry concoctions more than I like. I have to make these things a priority.

I need to learn to be a better judge of how much food a recipe will make. Sometimes I make a dish and think, for sure there will be leftovers… but then it all gets eaten at supper, so we’re out of luck for the next day.

Seeing as how I didn’t experience the energy and mood boost I expected to, I’m thinking it may not be a bad idea to track my food intake on FitDay or something – even for a week, to see how my macronutrients break down. It was something I considered when I started the challenge but decided not too because I thought it would be too much work. But I think it’s probably wise to do this, to pinpoint any areas that could be tweaked.

I have to decide what to do about this meat thing. I do like meat, but for the same vaguely moral reasons I stopped eating red meat about 10 years ago, I don’t feel like it’s something I necessarily want to eat much more of than I do at present. When I let myself think about it, it’s really hard for me to consciously eat formerly living creatures, not knowing how well they were treated when they were alive. The more I learn about how meat and eggs are produced, the more I find it hard to turn a blind eye. And I don’t WANT to turn a blind eye. It’s not that I have a problem eating humanely raised animals; I don’t. It’s that sourcing these products is a more expensive proposition that I’m sure I can afford. And what about eggs? You can get pastured eggs in the summertime here in Manitoba, but what happens in the winter? How intimately do I have to know the farmer to feel comfortable with how the eggs were produced? Knowledge is power, but knowledge is also discomfort, sometimes, too.

This new way of eating has prompted me to ask even more questions about the food I’m eating. Produce is another one. Do you know how expensive organic bell peppers are? They are like, $9 a pound. Although I’m not saying I want to reduce the amount of veggies I eat, it does make me even more interested in local, more sustainable eating. It’s just when I think of the sheer prospect of canning/freezing enough veggies during the summer to last the year, it seems crazy. But again, I have to remind myself, it’s not all or nothing. I can take things with baby steps.

I don’t think that I experienced a low-carb flu, but in retrospect I think that I was in a bit of a fog – I do remember grasping for words, and thinking, “What is WRONG with me? Why can’t I say the word ‘oven’??” Sometimes I think I am still in this fog, and wonder whether bumping fat & protein up would improve this. Or maybe, conversely, adding some more carbs back in?

I am uncomfortable with describing my diet as “primal”. Part of this is that I don’t want people to make false assumptions about anything. I think the Primal Blueprint deserves a lot of credit, and that Mark Sisson has created something pretty incredible, but I am just wary about self-identifying this way. Sweeping statements (I don’t eat grains! I don’t eat sugar!) are not for me. I’m not sure I need to call my diet anything… throughout the last two months, I haven’t declined any offers of food because they weren’t “primal”, I have just gone with my gut feeling and chosen from there. I think what will work for me is just choosing to eat a certain way at home and then picking my battles when I’m eating socially or at a restaurant. That expression isn’t even the best one – I don’t ever want to have a war-like relationship with any food.

I admit that I’m still having a hard time reconciling the PB as the healthiest possible way to eat, when countries like France manage to stay healthy while still consuming grains and legumes. Reading Jeannie Marshall’s descriptions of Italian cooking, with its fresh pasta, appreciation of legumes, and plenty of meatless meals, I just found it hard to believe that these people aren’t following a great diet. I have just started reading “French Kids Eat Everything” and I am seeing lots of parallels. I’m planning on re-reading “French Women Don’t Get Fat”, too.

At the same time as I was doing the PB thing, my SIL watched the film Forks over Knives and read The China Study and found them incredibly compelling. Another friend’s mother has made a plant-based, organic diet her priority as she recovers from cancer, based on having read The China Study as well. I was reading more about this study and happened upon The China Study: Fact or Fallacy. It’s a fascinating and surprisingly easy read by a raw foodist who thinks the science in the China Study is flawed and contradictory, but chooses to be nearly vegan anyway – because that’s what works best for her body and feels right for her. And I think that’s what it comes down to for me… if eating so much meat doesn’t sit well with me (physically or mentally), the solution is probably to incorporate some legumes so that I can still have high-protein, meatless meals.

My next step along “this journey” (Bachelorette, anyone?) is to learn more about the Weston A. Price Foundation philosophy, which is similar to PB in its advocating for REAL FOOD, and also promotes soaking and fermenting grains and legumes for optimizing nutrient absorption and minimizing anti-nutrients. The more I learn about WAPF the more I am intrigued.

I’ve been sitting on this draft long enough, so I’m going to hit publish… hopefully will be back with some more thoughts, recipes, etc. soon.