Lost & Found

“What screws us up most in life is the picture in our head of how it is supposed to be.”
This quote was left in a comment on my blog post yesterday (thanks Claire!).  I have to say, I teared up when reading it.  It sums up everything that I’ve been feeling the last few days.  You see, I eliminated grains three months ago because I was not feeling well and I was having all sorts of symptoms.  I did it for my overall health and because I felt, somewhere within me, that this is what my body needed.  And as I was starting to read grain free and gluten free blogs in order to support myself, I started finding really wonderful blogs within the paleo and primal community.  The trouble is/was, that there are a lot of really fit people who are showcased in these blogs, either as the authors or as….well….showcases of what “you too can achieve!”.  No doubt that there are a zillion really positive benefits from being grain free and practicing paleo or primal (or a mutated combination of both as I prefer).  One thing that is not positive though is the illusion that is perpetrated that you can have it all.  Simply eat a lot of meat and fat, avoid bread and pasta and you can lean out, muscle up and get the body you’ve never had but always wanted.  And it’s true.  What I fail to remember (and maybe you, too) is that the body I’m going to get is still mine. I used to be almost 300 pounds and unfortunately there is some fallout (fall down?) from that which will never go away outside of cosmetic surgery.  I’m also in my mid thirties, not twenties.  Believe it or not, that makes a difference.  I also like beer on the weekends and a glass of wine on a Wednesday.  I like walking with my man at his pace (ever increasing, mind you!) rather than running alone.  I work hard at the gym but I don’t want to spend more than an hour and a half there at any one time.  
I’m afraid I may have been sucked in.  Sucked into believing that I could become someone that I’m not.  The fact that I didn’t/can’t achieve that became frustrating and disheartening. 
However!  Yesterday morning after I did early gym and was driving home I felt the most like myself that I have in weeks.  I actually said (to myself) “YES! I’m back!”.  I felt my determination and my fight.  Physically there is no reason for me to be feeling this way.  I’m a bit bloated and the scale is higher than I would prefer.  Any muscle gain that I’ve had isn’t visible to anyone but me.  I haven’t “leaned out”.  Hell, I haven’t even slimmed down!  
So why do I feel strong and successful?  Because I had forgotten who I was and where I came from and these past few days I’ve remembered and it feels good!  Last week and the beginning of this week I had been trying to figure out how I was going to avoid posting my results from NROL Stage 1…because it’s not dramatic and I wasn’t super pleased with how I’d done as far as losing some fat and gaining some muscle.  
But I am going to post the results, measurements and pictures. Here’s why.  I love all the paleo and primal blogs out there but I feel like I need to post my grain free, less than super-lean self.   Because I am succeeding at something difficult.  It is HARD to eliminate grains, beans etc in our culture.  I’ve found my way and cleaned up my insides and I feel good.  That was the point.  I also started a new kind of exercise (new to me, anyway) and my body appreciates it, I’m stronger and fitter and I feel good.  Again, that’s the point. 
So shouldn’t I promote that?  If I don’t want to perpetuate the “grain free makes you look like a fitness model” myth then shouldn’t I put my photo where my mouth is and show you what grain free and weight lifting looks like for me?  A before & after that is really a “ongoing forever”?  I think it’s important to know that you can work hard for three months and not be able to bounce a quarter off your abs and that’s alright.  It’s still a success!  You can eliminate grains and not lose 50 pounds in three months and that’s alright too.  Still successful!  You can be an average person who gets average results and that is most certainly a success story!
So when my Stage One is over in the next week or so, I will once again donne the Harley Davidson bikini that I took my before pictures in and get Ray to take an update.  Then I’ll break out the insanely long tape measure that I have and get measured up.
I got lost for a little while there, I allowed something exterior to completely change my definition of who I am rather than taking the new item and integrating it into my fabric.  That created a surprising amount of stress and frustration when who I believed I was going to become didn’t materialize.
I made fajitas last night.  I could not see using the packaged fajita seasoning that you buy at the store, that stuff has WAY too much salt and too many chemicals that neither one of us need.  So, I made my own fajita seasoning and it was absolutely perfect!  If you’re interested, comment me for the recipe.  Ray had his fajitas on soft tortillas and I had mine on leaf lettuce that I then spread with a healthy amount of mashed avocado and then topped with the fajita meat/veg.  Absolutely delicious!  And none of the bloat/yech that comes from using a packaged mix!

The homemade seasoning didn't taste at all like the packaged stuff, something different altogether.......but much more authentic and fresh tasting!


14 thoughts on “Lost & Found

  1. This is a strong post. Especially like the part about not letting your exterior define you. I can’t embrace the whole living without grains thing (I think they can and should be, for me at least, a healthy part of eating a whole grain and balanced diet.), but I applaud your determination and your willingness to take mindful action. Good luck on this journey!

    • Thanks very much for the comment, Debbie!

      Lots of people do just fine with grains (my spouse, for one). My belief is just that, my belief….but everyone gets to make their own decisions in life, I wouldn’t smack the dinner roll out of Ray’s hand if he wants to eat it! 😉

  2. I fully agree with you here! One of my biggest pet peeves is when advertisers lie and perpetuate the illusion, “Hey, everyone on my program succeeds through leaps and bounds!”. That’s bull.

    Statistically, about 95% of people who embark on an exercise program fail. You were one of the 5% who actually created long-term change, and that is something to be proud about! Nice work!

    I think your story will actually impact more people than some of those sites that you mentioned. Oftentimes, when the advertisers act like everyone instantly loses every ounce of fat on their body with their program, people feel like they’ve failed if they don’t achieve the same results. Your story is actually realistic. You pushed through and improved yourself dramatically, but you don’t have your six-pack yet. Maybe you will at your one year progress pictures. Who knows? But at least you’re walking the walk and being honest about your journey. People will be able to relate with you a lot better that way.

    Ok. I’m off my soap-box now. Great post! 🙂

    • Thanks for your comment! Soap-boxing always welcome! 😉

      I don’t know necessarily that it’s an issue of false advertising within paleo/primal, I think that there are people who get amazing results and are excited to shout it from the rafters, Lord knows I would be! But what the rest of us regular people need to remember is that A) maybe they were already mostly fit before and this just bumped them to the next level, B) maybe they are genetically geared towards lean/muscle gains, C) we are all individuals and we can’t all expect the same results, much as we might want them.

      We can all do the same exact things and we will all get completely different results. I forgot that temporarily; I thought if I do what they do then I’ll get what they have. Not so. So now I’ll do what I do and what works within my own life and the results I get will be unique to me.

  3. i really, really love this post. I feel like it is your version of my recent “revolution”. Being ok with being you, doing things that feel good and right and being happy with that. Not trying to be what you’re not ever going to be without losing the enjoyment of life! Making good choices most of the time and just being generally content. I’m so glad you found your way back to yourself and learned a bunch on the way! Yay!


    • Thanks Tara, it’s funny we’re both revolutioning at the same time!

      The thing is, I could remove every ounce of enjoyment from my life, eat nothing but brocoli and chicken for every meal, never drink, exercise 3 hours a day and I would still NEVER arrive at the level of the elite athlete/fitness model. Never. I do not have the genetics for it let alone the fact that I spent the first 20 years of my life eating shit and being fat and never moving around. It is just not going to happen. I am finally, FINALLY alright with that. So, if I’ll never get there even with extreme measures, I’m sure as hell not going to get there with any less! The only answer is to either stop trying altogether (not an option as far as I’m concerned) or do right things because they are right and do enjoyable things within reason and be accepting of the body I have and the person I am.

  4. I always enjoy your posts of how you’re coming along. Even when I feel low about something else besides diet and exercise (and lately I’ve been feeling VERY LOOOOW about these), I can always read your posts and come away with something to help me. Thanks for staying on the path of being good to yourself and letting me allow myself to join you.

    • I’m so glad that you could find a little something to make you feel a little better. I always figure, since I’m fairly regular, if I’m experiencing something, perhaps others are too and it’s always nice to read/hear that you are not alone! We are all unique….and yet not so much when it comes to the things that we struggle with!

      Take care!

  5. Aw Shanny! I 100% feel you. It’s so easy to get sucked in to believing that you can change these things, and suddenly WAM! You’ll be a fitness model! I feel exactly the same as you, I’ve made so many improvements in my life since switching to a paleo based diet (90%), and I feel amazing MOST of the time. Am I a size 2 and in love with my body?? HELL NO. But, I am in the best shape of my life, and I am ‘getting’ there. My body is not ever going to be teeny tiny, my butt and boobs like me too much to ever fly the coop. But, it’s OK. Great post, and keep on trucking away. Do what you enjoy, and what’s best for you. You look great either way 🙂

    • Thanks for sharing, it’s nice to know that people feel similarly, especially with this program that can blow you out of the water! It’s all about claiming who we are as individuals though. Apply the program to who we actually are and we too can have phemomenal success!

  6. This is a great post Shanny, really insightful and from the heart. Keep up the positive thinking and just remember that no one is perfect! The changes you’re making in your diet will stick with you for the long run, giving you a happy, healthy life, and that’s something that NO mirror or scale will do for you!! Keep it up! 🙂

  7. Perhaps before and after photos are not appropriate for measuring progress in a paleo lifestyle. I don’t think they are necessary. Paleo isn’t a weight loss program. It’s more important than weight loss. The point is to get better nutrition through better quality foods. Since there is no paleo prescription for quantity of food or portion sizes, it is not guaranteed to improve your BMI, nor should it be expected to.

    If weight loss is the true goal, perhaps time to invest in a food scale and a calorie counting chart. But keep up the paleo, its worth it.

    • I think, while you are right, that there is no rule for how much to eat, it’s fairly well understood that once you start eating the way in which your body is genetically programmed, any excess weight is going to come off at s one point and if you happen to be doing any sort of strength training or interval training, your body composition is going to shift. And that is going to be visible in before and after photos.

      So you go ahead and use your calorie charts and food scale and don’t take any pictures…..I am going to do just the opposite.

      Thanks for missing the whole point of a meaningful post.

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