(I’m turning 50 at the end of this year. So for the next 12 months, I’m going to tackle different parts of what turning 50 means to me. Here’s entry number two. Find the series here.)
I hate the middle-age spread. My slowing metabolism, a side effect of the aging process, has changed the shape of my body. The back fat, the boob spread and the stomach pooch. Over the last year or two, my clothes had slowly been getting tighter and I had to buy a few pairs of pants that were a size up, something I had been loathe to do because it felt like giving in.
Last year, I started a full on effort to exercise. Six days a week, you could find me either spinning, running or going to Pilates. I even ran my first 5K. And I felt great. Strong. But I didn’t lose any weight. I was actually gaining weight. And it wasn’t all muscle. Then my knee started to bother me and I got busy with work so I took a break from all that exercise.
My husband also had been watching the pounds slowly inch up. In the last few years, he has been limited in the type of exercise he can do because of a neck issue that is aggravated by the extremely physical work he does every day in his restaurant.
But now everything has changed for us.
This past November, while away for a weekend celebrating a wedding, my husband Fred got in to a lengthy conversation about food and diet with a friend that we hadn’t seen for a while. Craig and his wife, my college friend Patty, had been eating a Paleo style diet for almost a year. They felt great and they looked great too.
Craig is one of those really smart people who can read tons of material on something, like going Paleo, and then very simply explain the science behind it. After a few hours of discussion, Fred was sold on it. And since he was going to make the change, I said that I would too.
We got back home on Sunday night and on Monday, jumped right in on completely changing our eating. No pasta, bread or rice. No soy wasabi Triscuits. No fruit. No sugars. We cut out most processed foods and turned the focus of our meals to lean meats, nuts, leafy greens and avocados.
I also subscribed to the newsletter of this guy, Mark Sisson, that Craig had recommended and did a little reading of my own. We pretty much started following his plan for what he calls “The Primal Blueprint”. It’s similar to the Paleo diet but it allows for full fat dairy foods like yogurt and whole milk for my coffee.
Within a few days, my husband’s face looked less bloated. Just like that. Within a few weeks, mine did too. It took me longer than my husband to start seeing the weight come off. I didn’t start losing weight until a few weeks in, though I felt better and my clothes were getting looser.
And now, it’s been two months since we started this lifestyle change. We feel really good. My husband has lost over 20 pounds. I’ve lost almost ten. We’re not hungry. And there’s something about eating this way that has reduced the amount of inflammation we both had in our bodies. My hands had been achy and bothering me in the mornings and they don’t anymore. My husband’s neck bothers him a lot less and he has fewer aches and pains. I have a goal to lose another 10 pounds. And I’m slowly adding exercise back in to my routine.
I’m surprised at how easy it’s been to completely change our eating habits. We abide by the 80/20 rule, meaning that we eat this way at least 80% of the time. (Probably more like 90%.) We still enjoy our beverages. Bourbon, vodka with club soda and even red wine. And my new go to sweet treat is a square of high cacao dark chocolate (85% +) or a spoonful of almond butter.
There’s no magic pill. Or short term battle. It’s not a diet. It’s a lifestyle change. Something had to give. And I’m feeling pretty lucky that Fred and Craig had that conversation.
I want to go in to my 50s feeling the best I possibly can, both physically and mentally. Eating in a primal way and exercising will help me to do that.
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