Also known as
"There and Back Again: A Paleo Tale by L.A. Jennings"
|Paleo in April 2011, then back to grains in early June 2011|
After several years of counting calories and macro-nutrients, I just allowed myself to eat...a lot. I ate lots of meat, green veggies, nuts and fruit. By January, I weighted 130-ish pounds and felt slow and fat. I cut out the nuts, fruit and coconut milk and limited myself to meat and veggies only. I weighted and measured my food again, this time keeping the carbs under 50g/day and the fats around 90g. I was under a lot of stress; Mike had been unable to find a job and I did not sleep at night. In addition to the stress brought on by our financial woes, I was depressed over my increased fat and incredibly poor performance on the mat.
In April 2010, Mike landed an amazing job and in addition to be thankful for our new-found economic comfort, I was convinced that I would be able to lose weight. In May, I was 138lbs...the heaviest I have ever been.
I hoped that over the next couple of months, my weight would change. I was still eating lots of protein, some fat and very few carbs. In my obsession to lose fat, I became somewhat reclusive, declining invitations to hang out with friends where there would be non-diet foods. Several times, Mike and I went to lunch with other people and I would order nothing, opting to wait until we were home to eat my salad or veggies.
|April 1, 2011|
By April 2011, I felt desperate. I visited my doctor and had multiple tests run, which included a full thyroid panel. Although my TSH levels were normal, my T3 level was incredibly low, a phenomenon that has been linked to very low carb diets. I asked my naturopath for a thyroid supplement and she agreed to try. Although I felt better (my feet were not as cold, deeper sleep and general boost in mood), my weight did not change. I began a weightlifting protocol and decided I would focus for the next few months on technique and increasing my lifts. After six weeks, I stopped the thyroid supplementation but, as you'll see, I never had a reason to go back on.
But I still felt alone, as if I was the only person 'doing it wrong' and getting fatter rather than leaner.
|June 22, 2011|
Shortly after, I discovered Leigh Peele through the FitCast and began to listen to older editions of her podcast. Her book, The Fatloss Troubleshoot, provided excellent information regarding caloric deficit and burn, but also the reality of metabolic damage due to extended deficits and macronutrient deficiencies. On June 1st, I ate a bowl of oatmeal...the first time I had eaten grains in nearly two years. I also added in non-fat Greek yogurt, cottage cheese and fruit. Within two weeks, my weight dropped to 130lbs. My lifts increased significantly and I did 5 dead-hang pull-ups after struggling to do one for years.
|Starting to see abs again!|
I don't think there is anything wrong with eating a Paleo diet necessarily, especially if you are overweight or have dietary issues. My problem was that I was not eating enough carbohydrates to sustain my high level of activity. MMA is extremely glycolytically depleting and I was now allowing my body to receive the nutrients necessary to keep up with my training. Also, the high levels of fat simply does not work for my particular metabolic system. I tend to be leaner and have less digestive issues when I keep the fat on a lower end and bump up the carbs.
Ultimately, I think everyone needs to consider what is best for their body rather than adhere to a diet that sounds good on paper. I love my current eating style because it allows me to enjoy the social aspects of eating, lift increasingly heavy and feel good about my body. I do not intend for this post to be a referendum on Paleo or Primal diets but rather to share the experience of one woman who felt