Friday, August 1, 2014

No Gains, No Grains - Dealing with Skeptics

A group of Primal/Paleo/Grain Free women who blog about their experiences/life/benefits without grains. A great way for others (who may be wanting to lose weight, reverse an acute/chronic health trend, and/or transition from commercial weight loss programs) to read about real life women who are living the life and succeeding.

This Month's topic is about dealing with skeptics. Everyone has an opinion. Everyone is an expert. I did not follow Paleo to lose the weight I lost. I did that by following a low carb, low fat, low sodium, high protein diet developed by Dr. Pat Poon (who has several weight loss clinics throughout the greater Toronto area). It was still a grain-free diet. I adopted the Paleo lifestyle when I went on maintenance. But even when I started Dr. Poon's diet, the biggest skeptic I had to deal with was me.

I went into my first meeting at Dr. Poon's clinic with the attitude that although I'd listen to what they had to say, I'd not be following the diet. No processed carbs? There was no way that I thought I'd be able to pull that off. And I was also a believer of Canada's Food Guide. Because that's what I'd been taught my entire life. After hearing what the doctor from the clinic told me, things began to make more sense to me.

Processed carbs turn into sugar once digested which stores itself as fat. Some people's metabolisms can deal with this extra fat, mine cannot. I am a binge eater and my binge food of choice was processed carbs. And that's anything with grains. Pasta, rice, bread, crackers...those are the foods I binged on. Although I'd over-indulge in sweets as well, anything bready was my nemesis, and still is.

So I started to look at this morbid obesity thing as a serious food intolerance that I suffered from. Some people can't eat dairy, or suffer from serious food allergies. I can't eat grains because it affects my body in a very adverse way. Once I started thinking of grains like that, it became easier for me to stick to my eating plan. My skepticism went away and I knew that what I was told was 100% truth. I lost 132 pounds in 15 months. 

Once I reached maintenance, I became increasingly anxious because although I was at a healthy weight, the maintenance diet for Dr. Poon included reintroduction of grains (whole wheat and brown rice) back into the diet. I knew that with my prolific binging past, I couldn't handle even small amounts of these foods. That's when I found Paleo. I became familiar with Paleo from reading the blogs of others who were following grain-free diets and doing really well. I'm a long distance runner and I need to eat enough energy to fuel my runs. Paleo allows me to basically eat unlimited amounts of protein and veggies when I'm training. This gives me a food freedom I've never had before. Although I stick to the rules as close as possible (I follow the 85/15 rule; 85% Paleo, 15% other), it's structured and easy...exactly what I need.

So are there other skeptics in my life? The people who are close to me get it. They didn't always, but everyone has seen what results I've gotten from following a grain-free lifestyle and any doubts they've had have gone away. It's people that I'm acquaintances with, or people I just meet who question my sanity. I know this lifestyle is not for everyone. It wasn't the easiest of transitions, but once I got a couple weeks in, my body no longer craved the carbs or refined sugar it was used to. Once I got over that initial carb and sugar withdrawal, it became easier. 

My family doctor (who referred me to Dr. Poon in the first place) is a bit of a Paleo skeptic. He's super supportive. He and I have been battling my weight issues my entire life and he knows with 100% certainty that this diet is the only one that has worked for me. This December will mark 2 years on maintenance for me. But he still wants to see me about every 6 months so he can order blood work. He wants to be sure I don't have any deficiencies. So far so good. My blood screens have come back perfect for the past 3 years (counting when I started Dr. Poon back in September 2011). 

My favorite scenario is when I'm in a group of people talking about weight loss and they have no idea that I used to weigh over 300 pounds. Paleo usually always comes up as the latest "fad" diet. And I usually hear how the diet is unrealistic for real life. I sit quietly for a while and let them speak their expertise on my lifestyle. And someone who knows me will usually say, "Leigh's Paleo". And they ask how that's working for me. I tell them that going grain-free has added many years to my life. I'll get the side-eye, and some questions about being a runner and Paleo and how I get my energy without grains. I'll eventually pull out my phone and show them my wall paper. It's a before photo that I like to keep handy. It reminds me of where I came from and lifts me up when I struggle with my own self image. That's when I get the double take and the open-mouthed speechless response. That moment is priceless and although they may still go away a skeptic, I know that I am doing what is best for me. 

Now I suggest you go and check out my blogging buddies and see how they deal with the skeptics in their life. They are awesome and have been doing this longer than me. They are the ones I learned from:-)

For Life 
Garden Girl 
The Sunny Coconut 

L: Me at my heaviest. I'm well over 300 pounds in that photo.
R: Me last weekend. Around 160 pounds and wearing horizontal stripes
and white shorts...never done that before:-)