My Path to Paleo: Reaching the Crossroad

I don’t know what my path is yet. I’m just walking on it.
Olivia Newton John

The path that led me to explore the Paleo lifestyle had many twists and turns.    I come from pioneer stock.  My ancestors successfully made the trek out west.  They were hardy, active people.  I appreciate that I have inherited these traits from them.  Unfortunately, part of their legacy is the ability to hold onto every calorie I ingest until every bit of energy has been wrung from it.  This is a good survival adaptation for a pioneer, but not so advantageous for a 50-something woman with a desk job.

I have struggled with weight issues for most of my adult life.  My weight has ranged from 115 pounds (This is my pre-pregnancy weight, that ever elusive target that I hope to reach again someday.  So what if my last baby is 27 years old?) to 170 pounds.  I am a short, small-boned person.  At 170 pounds, I am obese.

In December 2007 I found myself once again at 170 pounds.  I was wearing a size 16, and every indication was that I was only going to go up from there.  I decided that it was time to apply my exercise physiology and health education to my own life.  I embarked on an exercise program and a low-fat, high carb diet.  I was fairly successful with this, and by August 2008 I weighed 130 pounds and was wearing a size 6 (Of course, with vanity sizing, a size 6 in 2008 is not the same as a size 6 when I was in high school.  I had a pair of size 9 jean shorts from high school that fit me perfectly when I was wearing the current version of a size 6).

I maintained this weight until January 2010 by following the same diet and exercise plan as I used to lose weight.  I was constantly hungry, and needed to eat every 2 hours in order to keep up my blood sugar.  I wasn’t losing any more weight, but I wasn’t gaining any more either.  I was not entirely satisfied with my body composition at 130 lbs.  I still was carrying a lot of fat in my belly (and I had a bit of the batwing thing going on with my arms).

In 2010, I decided to take on a new challenge.  I signed up to run a marathon in October 2010.  TMOTH (The Man of the House) and I began to train together.  As TMOTH got into the training, his body composition changed and he got leaner.  He needed to eat a bit more food, but it became impossible for him to retain fat anywhere.  I was hoping that I would have a similar result, but it was not to be.  I became increasingly ravenous.  If I kept my food levels at the pre-training level, my blood sugar crashed.  I started eating more.  I didn’t gain any weight, but my weight and my body composition stayed exactly the same as they were before the training.  In October we successfully completed the marathon.  You can see in this picture of me crossing the finish line that even though I trained rigorously and was able to run 26 miles, I was still carrying extra body fat.

In the weeks following the marathon, a perfect storm hit.  I sustained an overuse injury to my right foot and was no longer able to run (now my preferred exercise).  I persisted in trying to run and kept exacerbating the injury.  As the holidays approached I started using holiday foods to get the boosted mood that I had been getting from running.  I told myself that I’d just enjoy all the special foods until the holidays were over, and then I’d go back to the low fat food.

January came and went.  Instead of holiday foods, I was enjoying chips and Reese’s Peanut Butter cups.  I did shift over to doing exercise other than running, but I was not as consistent without the training goal I had in 2010.

My weight started creeping up, and finally in late June 2011, I reached 150 pounds.  My weight was the same as TMOTH’s weight.  This was the dash of cold water in the face that I needed.  I prefer to weigh less than my man.  It’s a personal preference of mine.  Fortunately TMOTH is not a large person, or I could have been much larger before I came to my senses.

Another thing that started happening in May/June 2011 was that I noticed that I was having some adverse reactions to eating high carb foods.  An hour after I ate a lot of carbs, I had a huge crash in blood sugar.  I found myself falling asleep in the middle of the day (at my desk at work, on the couch reading, drowsy while driving, etc.).  If I ate something, I’d perk up, but an hour later, I’d crash.

At this point I started researching nutrition and metabolism to determine the approach I wanted to take to deal with my issues.

Coming tomorrow:  My Path to Paleo:  Choosing my Route

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