I remember when I was 33 pounds overweight and frustrated that I couldn't fit into my 32-inch waist jeans anymore. Nothing would make me happier than being able to lose the weight that seemed to be creeping in around my mid-section.
My love handles were starting to take on a mind of their own.
I thought the answer was to start dieting. You can ask those closest to me what this "dieting" looked like... but I'll save you the time and share this ugly process with you right now.
The first step is that I would become unhappy about my weight gain, so I would commit to eating less food by decreasing my portion sizes and eat less often. I was always hungry during this process but I convinced myself that it was the only way to lose the love handles.
Then, I would then exercise more. You know, calories in versus calories out. I hit the gym hard multiple times per week.
I would always start this process on a Monday because I deserved to eat, drink and do (or not do) whatever I wanted on the weekends.
Weeks would pass and I would either see no results or very marginal results. I would grow frustrated with my lack of progress and I would start eating whatever I wanted in quantities that would make a sumo wrestler blush.
This process repeated over and over again - far more times than I care to admit.
Reading over that craziness makes me feel embarrassed but I’m sharing because I believe there are some lessons to be gained from my stupidity. Most notably, here are the 4.5 lessons I learned from trying to get healthy the wrong way.
4.5 Mind Traps That Kill Your Paleo Diet Results
1. You're focused on short-term goals.
An example would be to fit in those jeans just in time for the class reunion. Or being able to go down a bathing suit size before summer.
I'm not saying short-term goals are bad. In fact, I think they can be helpful. But it’s important to realize that eating the "paleo" way is not a short-term fix for anything.
I truly believe that your best bet for a healthy and disease-free life is by avoiding the poisonous processed foods that line the grocery store shelves.
It goes without saying that you should ALWAYS avoid the stuff that hurts your well-being. You shouldn't just avoid it for a week, a couple of weeks or a month. If you want to be healthy all the time, you should avoid bad stuff (like processed foods) all of the time.
2. You believe that there is a perfect time to start your new paleo diet.
I was the worst offender of having to start new on Monday. But once I discovered the paleo lifestyle, it made so much sense that I decided to make a change that day.
The point is that it is ALWAYS the right time to start being healthier. It is ALWAYS the right time to be more physically active. It is ALWAYS the right time to make better food choices.
If you believe that there is a perfect time to start a paleo diet then you believe that there is a perfect time to stop. I may sound like a radical when I say this, but the paleo lifestyle does not stop. It's forever. It means always being aware of the foods you eat and how they affect your health in the short-term and long-term.
Sounds like a lot of work, right? Don’t worry. Once it’s a habit, healthy eating will be second nature.
3. You tell yourself that you'll be good and eat paleo for "X" number of days and then you'll eat whatever you want on the other days.
This short-term focus was a big one for me. I would try to eat "clean" all week and then tell myself that I could eat whatever on the weekends. I deserved it, right?!
This never worked. I would feel horrible on Sunday and my resolve would be weaker on Monday when the box of doughnuts was staring me down in the break room at work.
It wasn't until I changed my focus to making a long-term lifestyle change that I realized the weekend “cheats” weren’t doing anything positive for me. I either wanted to make my health a priority or I didn't. I couldn't be conscientious about good health for half the time and then treat my body like garbage the other half. It doesn't work that way.
Make a commitment to being healthy. Make a commitment to having energy to do all sorts of activities. Make a commitment to increasing your longevity and vitality. This is the good stuff. Fitting into your jeans is nice but it's the long-term rewards that truly give you the sense of accomplishment and well-being that you long for.
I know first hand how hard it is to change your eating habits. It's tough! But if I can do it, you can do it.
To spare myself from sounding like a crazy person, let me tell you that this does not mean perfection! Far from it. You cannot and will not eat a perfectly clean paleo diet 100% of the time. Nobody expects you to.
I believe it's healthy to strive for 100% but don't beat yourself up if you decide to have a piece of birthday cake at your own birthday. Letting your hair down once-in-a-while can help remind you that you're in control of the ship. But if you’re driving your ship off a cliff every weekend, it’s time to reevaluate.
4. You worry about what other people think when you pass on the breads and desserts.
Healthy eating can be tough when you're at your friend's dinner party or if your work has you out entertaining clients often.
What has helped me was the thought that sometimes to get what you really want you need to be a little unreasonable. Sometimes that means having some pig-headed discipline and not caring what other people might think about what you're doing.
It also helps to realize that nobody has the right to decide what your life goals should be.
All of us have goals that we want to achieve. Some people want to make the big bucks, some want to be movie stars or start businesses or lose weight. You have the right to pursue what will bring you happiness and fulfillment.
If getting your goals means that you skip the bread at dinner then so be it. If your friends truly have a problem with this then I suggest you find new friends. If it's your family that has a problem with it…I would just ignore them. I'm not saying don't love your family. But it's probably safe to say that your family is not the authority on healthy living. I know mine isn't.
Bottom line: be responsible for yourself. Let your actions do the talking and set an example by how you live your life. You don't have to be a talking advertisement for the paleo lifestyle. Just focus on what your "why" is and do what you have to do.
Over time you'll see the results you want and people will take notice. And don't be surprised if you see a couple of your friends passing on the bread basket at the next dinner party.
4.5. You don't believe that you are a healthy person.
This is 4.5 because it’s often deeply hidden in your subconscious. Many of us struggle to see ourselves as truly healthy, and this leads to making sub-optimal decisions based on your own view of yourself.
It’s time to recalibrate your self-perception. The human machine was designed for great things, and this includes you.
We can use our bodies to sprint, jump, run long distances and lift heavy things. We can climb trees, rocks and mountains. We can throw objects far and fast. And we have superior brainpower that can create anything you can imagine, learn from past experiences and envision bright futures.
You were meant to be healthy. If you're reading this right now then chances are you have everything you need to be healthy and fit. Don't sell yourself short. Don't waste your health. Don't waste your body. Have respect for yourself. Be grateful that you have a body that works and can do great things.
Overcoming short-term focus is hard in this world of quick fixes and instant gratification. The best part is that if you can stay focused on living a healthy lifestyle for the long- term, then you will not only achieve your short-term goals, you’ll achieve optimal long-term health as well.
You are capable of success and the fulfillment that comes from great health. I wish that for you. Stay focused on long-term lifestyle habits and I feel confident that you will get there.
Please spread the paleo lifestyle goodness and "share" this post on facebook. It only takes a second to share the info but the postivie outcomes will last a lifetime.