Thankfully, my obsession with food comes with an equally preoccupying obsession with staying healthy and fit. I treasure my body's strength and ability to move. My mind is always on the go and my body wants to be on the go, too. Becoming inert or unable to be physical is my biggest fear. Not to mention the risk of getting hurt at work is directly related to my agility, fitness, strength and mental acuity.
Recently, Shawn came to me and told me he wanted to try transitioning to a Paleo lifestyle because he had been discussing it with a friend who had been able to get off cholesterol medication with this shift in diet. Intrigued, because nothing else (including vegan) had worked, I began reading and researching everything I could get my hands on about this Paleo crap. I figured it was just another fad diet, but I wanted to see what the fuss was about and figure out what I'd need to cook and buy at the store. I quickly realized that Paleo and vegetarian could not coexist in one household without an unlimited budget and a personal chef. So, if he was going to try it we were all going to try it. We agreed to try it for a month. I shall call February the month I became a recovering vegetarian.
The concept of Paleo is simple, yet complex. Simple in that it is based on the way our ancestors ate and the way our bodies have evolved to eat. Complex in the scientific foundation on which the concepts are based. I'm a skeptic. For every scientific study supporting one idea, there is another supporting the opposing idea. But it's hard to argue with the way I feel. And it's hard to argue with meals like this: roasted chicken, kale salad, sweet potato, and blueberries for dessert. (Okay, I lied...blueberries and a few squares of dark chocolate for dessert).
After a month, I have noticed a marked difference in the following areas:
- my energy level is stable without the afternoon nods
- my skin looks and feels healthier
- my headaches have DISAPPEARED. I was averaging one headache a week, with at least one or two migraine's a month. I attributed these to menstruation and hormones, but I've had two cycles now without a single headache. When I think back to when I began getting migraines, it was about the same time I became vegetarian. Coincidence? I think not.
- I am no longer a walking bag of gas. After so long as a vegetarian, I assumed that was just my normal state of being: bloated and gassy. I am embarrassed to say I was the gassiest person I knew. I would carry deodorizing spray in my patrol car so the day shift officer who used my car wouldn't think a transient had been driving it!
- My energy level during workouts is better; my running endurance has improved (much to my running partner's dismay)
- I'm sleeping better! Working midnights, that's not saying much but I've gone from having to take sleeping pills every day just to get a few hours to taking nothing and getting six hours. A big improvement!
- My moods have stabilized. I feel less like the Titanic (a party one minute, drowning the next) and more even keeled (much to my family's delight!) I often felt frustrated that I could not explain WHY I felt bitchy...I just DID.
- My mental acuity has improved tenfold. I often felt like I was in a fog, and now the skies are clear and crisp!
I believe that I have probably been deficient in Omega 3 (flax just doesn't cut it) with too much Omega 6. I am sure I lacked sufficient Vitamin D. I believe I was constantly in a state of insulin spikes and rebounds because of the high carbohydrate diet that came with eating so many grains and legumes. I also believe I have a gluten sensitivity that masked itself with these other symptoms. Whatever the case, I cannot deny how much better I feel! Blood panels at the end of the next month should, hopefully, confirm that I am as healthy as I think I am!
Along with this huge lifestyle change came another big decision. I enrolled in the Institute for Integrative Nutrition with the goal of becoming a Health Coach and personal trainer. I hope to have a client base within a year, and ultimately turn it into a full time job once I retire from the police department. It's exciting and scary and invigorating all at once!