By Robert Begley
Editor's note: This article may look like a brazen promotional piece for my services and website, but it isn't. Admittedly, Robert inherently tends to see life from the bright side, but whenever I talk to Robert, he seems genuinely happy with his customized paleo plan. By the way, I let the client's health history, health goals, and the results of testing, experimentation, and measuring inform my recommendations. /Christian
Roughly one year ago I wrote on this blog about my conversion to the paleo diet. As successful as I thought it was, during the process I met with some resistance, both externally (from others close to me) and internally (from myself when I relaxed on my standards), and consequently did not make the kind of commitment I had hoped for. Even though I felt better when eating that way, periodically cravings would overcome newer, better habits. This led to frustration and a conflict which did not leave me happy. So I added it to my list of 2011 objectives in my annual report. Now it was time to make some higher level changes which would have a consistent, lasting and hopefully permanent effect.
One step was to pick up Robb Wolf’s Paleo Solution book, which is an excellent introduction. I also started listening to his podcasts, which are fabulous, as they cover a range of subjects which I find entertaining and practical. Then I was invited a conference call seminar open to the Healthy Urban Kitchen subscribers, of which I am one. But the real change came when Christian Wernstedt gave a Toastmasters speech on the importance of having a health coach. At no better time in my life was I ready to hear this. Already motivated, I thought that paying someone would definitely cement my application of the practice.
Since Christian’s approach is to tailor the program to the individual’s specific context the first part is to answer reams of questions about health history, habits, concerns and goals. Then with his trusted calibrator tool we took some measurements dealing with body fat, stress and other categories. Already I realized how this was a much wider than simple eating habits. I learned about good sleep, cortisol and other stressors that affect health.
A few immediate changes I implemented were to buy the lamp/alarm on his VitalObjectives site. I now sleep in a pitch black room and this light gradually brightens, simulating a sunrise, and birds chirp when the alarm is ready. In addition I take a Natural Calm magnesium drink before going to bed and one of the first benefits I noticed is that I no longer wake up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom. I’ve always been a very light sleeper, waking up regularly as fire, police and ambulance sirens constantly pass outside my apartment. However, now my sleep is deeper than it’s ever been and when I get up I am rejuvenated and ready for action. I still don’t sleep that much and do take a nap during the day time but this doesn’t bother me at all.
As I mentioned in my first essay on my poor eating habits, before paleo I considered my one vice in life to have too much of a wheat craving, with pasta, bread, cookies and cakes leading the pack. My cooking skills were limited to making toast, pasta or frying eggs. Cheap, easy, fast and convenient. But healthy? No. That has changed dramatically. I went out and bought some new cooking utensils and now I make it a point to add variety (and all kinds of spices) to my meal plan, whether it is making quiche muffins, (mixed with bacon, peppers, onions, spinach—found on LeanMachineNYC website) or my staple of sausage and peppers with broccoli, garlic, tomatoes and mushrooms, smothered with coconut oil. Grass fed beef gives me a burst of energy and satiety, instead of making me want to plop on the couch and zone out. I still have a ways to go before I consider myself a competent cook but the feeling of empowerment is awesome. I’m in the process of turning my only major vice (some say I have other vices but that’s another story) into a major virtue.
I am still very active and my workouts still vary, whether in ballet class, krav maga, combat conditioning, yoga, swimming, or even strength training. Now I’ll have a sweet potato post workout, instead of that huge bowl of macaroni and cheese covered with Ragu sauce, which I was programmed to do for decades. In addition, another of Christian’s recommendation, I’ll have the delicious tasting powered Purple Wraath EAA mixed with water during my workouts, as this helps to enhance performance during the workout as well as improving recovery.
There is also a list of fabulous reading material on the VitalObjectives website as it helps to understand some of the theories being. I enjoyed the Cortisol Connection, Influencers and am currently reading Beyond Brawn.
I even managed a 21 day sugar detox program, where I gave up all additives (honey or Splenda in my tea) or whipped cream over my strawberries and bananas dessert. This made me feel incredible and I plan to do this regularly in the future.
Am I across the finish line and fully embracing the paleo way of life? Psychologically perhaps, but not yet in reality. Though I am confident on my own, too often I lower my standards or weaken in the presence of others. So, this will be the next level challenge and perhaps will be my theme for a Paleo Round Three essay next summer.