In an effort to support my boyfriend in his Crossfit challenge, I decided to do the 30 day paleo challenge with him. If you’re not familiar with paleo, it’s basically a really extreme form of gluten-free and veganism: no dairy, grains, legumes, alcohol, processed food, sugars, and anything else that cavemen wouldn’t be able to hunt, gather, and eat during the paleolithic era.
I have to admit, the idea of going 30 days without any form of sugar or alcohol seemed impossible. Yes, I am your modern day yogi that believes in enjoying everything with conscious moderation, including craft beer and cupcakes. But “moderation” in my mind meant every single day. Having a drink after a stressful day was normal, as was having something sweet after dinner. As you can imagine, the initial thought of changing my familiar eating habits for 30 days seemed nearly impossible.
And let me tell you, those first couple days were a struggle. I had a constant stream of thoughts of everything I couldn’t eat: doughnuts…french fries…carrot cake…ice cream. I would be driving on the freeway and the mere sight of a McDonald’s would make my body tense and my mind would be consumed with the idea of eating a juicy burger. I didn’t realize how addicted I was to crappy food until then.
But with lots of discipline and commitment I was able to successfully complete those 30 days without cheating. And to be honest, if it wasn’t for Thanksgiving being right around the corner, I probably could have continued that diet long after the 30 days was over!
So what did I learn from this experience?
1. YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT
This is one of those buzz phrases floating around the health food world that I never understood until now. I felt so much lighter and cleaner after eating “clean” for 30 days. My body was full of energy and my mind felt sharp. I really felt how the nutrition from the food changed the way I feel. I used to walk around feeling like I had a constant haze or fog in my head, but eating food that wasn’t processed made me feel a sense of mental clarity that I’ve never experienced before. Eat clean and feel clean!
2. YES, YOU CAN SAY NO TO CRAVINGS
That first week was rough, it was the toughest battle I had against the alcohol and sugar demons. But the more I slapped my cravings in the face, the more I felt empowered to continue saying no. Yoga teaches you to become the observer of your thoughts and actions. Well when I was observing my cravings, I realized that there’s still space between the food and my craving for me to make a choice. I still had control over my final decision. I still had the option to say NO.
3. PREPARATION = SUCCESS
I think part of the reason why my boyfriend and I were so successful in completing this challenge was because we had a game plan. We bought this amazing book called Practical Paleo that explains all the do’s and don’ts of the diet and comes with 30 day meal plans for all kinds of weight goals and health issues. It was easier to resist temptation when we knew what to buy at the grocery store, what to cook, and what to eat for every meal.
4. FALL IN LOVE WITH RAW FOOD
Thanks to health food stores like Whole Foods, Mothers, and Sprouts, being a caveman in the modern world is pretty easy. I found some yummy food in the raw foods section. Of course, you still have to read the ingredients because not all raw foods are paleo. But the good thing is raw foods generally have fewer ingredients of things you can actually pronounce, which is great for going paleo. I fell in love with raw doughnut holes at Mother’s and Earth Cafe’s delicious raw cheesecakes. Spend some time in the raw foods section and you’ll find lots of healthy, paleo friendly goodies!
5. YOUR TASTE BUDS ARE TRICKING YOU
I’m convinced that eating clean resets your taste buds. Food that used to taste bland suddenly gave me foodgasms. Since I couldn’t eat any sweets, I needed to find something to satisfy my sweet tooth. Fruit became my dessert. Suddenly…fruit started tasting so much sweeter than I ever remembered. One day I was eating a fuji apple after dinner and it was THE sweetest and most satisfying apple I’ve ever had! In my mind, fruit was never an option to eat as dessert. But now it’s easier for me to choose an orange over carrot cake because I experienced how satisfying fruit can be.
6. YOU ARE MORE CAPABLE THAN YOU THINK
Our minds have developed into funny creatures that try to make sense of everything. If there’s something that doesn’t make sense , red lights flash and the walls of fear and limiting beliefs pop up. I was so scared to commit to these 30 days because I’ve never restricted my diet like this before. But this whole experience taught me that I am so much more capable of self discipline than I give myself credit for. Now I feel like I have control over my eating habits rather than being controlled by my cravings. It feels very empowering!
I encourage everyone to try a cleanse for yourself and be open to all the changes that will occur – mind, body, and spirit. I learned so much about myself and my body that have forever changed my relationship with food.
(Photo Cred: www.therxreview.com)