I want to share a revelation with you. This is something I have always believed, but it hasn’t really hit home until very recently. I have done countless hours of reading articles and blogs and other stuff regarding weight loss, and I have come to almost despise that term. Weight loss. It’s such a superficial term. If you ask 100 people why they are at the gym, I bet that most of them would reply “because I want to lose weight”. And for most of us, the reason is obvious. But think about what those people would say when you ask them “why do you want to lose weight?” Sure, some of them would tell you it’s because they want to live longer or they want to be able to play sports or ride a bike again. But I am willing to bet that most of them would say they want to lose weight because they want to look better… to feel good about going clothes shopping… to be comfortable in social situations at the beach or pool… or to feel more attractive with their partner. Of all the conversations I’ve had with people, and all of the reading I have done on the topic, the dominant reason for weight loss is superficial.
Now please don’t misunderstand me. Looking good and feeling more attractive is actually my own number one reason for wanting to lose weight, and that’s okay with me because it gives me motivation. And if that is also your source of motivation, then run with it! It’s a perfectly good reason to want to get your ass to the gym and start eating healthier. But this is where my revelation comes in. I have come to hate the term “lose weight”… because it has become a generic, catch-all term for us doing something that is SO MUCH MORE. I am guilty of being a slave to “losing weight”, and I sometimes measure my progress by the scale alone, when there are countless other ways that measure improved health. And that is exactly why I came to realize that I hate that term. As a society we have become overweight and obese, and the media has ensured we are WELL aware of that. So of course we have become obsessed with losing weight, and in turn we are obsessed with the stupid scale! And so I have chosen to stop hanging my hope on the scale to determine how much progress I have made with my health. I have decided instead to concentrate on other signs that I am becoming healthier. And that my friends is my revelation.
We have forgotten the other positive physical and psychological results that come from being healthier. I have forgotten lots of those things as well, and I’ll be honest – I am actually thinking of things to talk about literally as I write this post… to remind myself too. So here are a few things that have happened to me in the last few months. Think about whether these types of things have happened to you as well. My “skinny” jeans are now falling off without a belt. For me, that is the most obvious sign that I have made significant progress. It’s tough to see change in your appearance, since you see yourself in the mirror every day and the change comes very slowly. By the way, this is also why you NEED to take before and after photos as you start your journey, so you can see your progress. Anyways, you need to pay attention to how your clothes fit. This was a huge source of motivation for me. I also noticed that I can see my veins more in my arms. I know I know. This is a weird one, but it really is a sign that I am getting leaner. I may not notice a huge difference in my belly (which is my nemesis by the way), but I have noticed changes in other parts of my body and that certainly helps.
Another thing that has changed is the fact that I now have energy beyond what I ever imagined I could have. I am a shift worker, and I have been since 2004. As is the case with most of my shift-working cohorts, I HATE day shifts. My day shift is from 06:30am to 5:30pm. This means I need to be up at 05:30 at the latest. Like clockwork, I used to get tired every single day between 11 and 2. I would start to drift off in the car and would turn to coffee or those chemical-filled energy drinks to wake up. By the way, I hate how red bull is marketed as a “natural health product”. Bollocks!
Anyways, I am happy to say that my chronic afternoon lull has been eliminated! I am no longer tired half way through the day. This was actually the first sign that paleo was working for me. A week after starting paleo, I had a week of day shifts. I woke up on the first morning around 05:00 and I reached for my phone as the alarm went off… ready to start my typical chain of 3 to 4 snooze buttons in a row. But then I realized that I was refreshed… I was awake… and I didn’t need 9 extra minutes of sleep. I thought “this is strange. What is happening to me?” By the way, why the hell does my phone think that 9 minutes is a logical amount of time for the snooze button? Just give me that extra minute man. I can’t be trusted to do math at 5 in the morning. I barely even know what planet I’m on!
Sorry about the multiple photos. I found so many funny ones about the snooze button 🙂
So my point is this: As a whole, my energy levels have been amazing. Even when I get home after a long shift, I am not tired anymore. On days when I would have previously sat on the couch and gone to bed at 8, I now find myself doing useful things with my time. Weird!
Another benefit I have reaped is that my skin is clearer. Clearer? I think that’s a word. I’m to lazy to Google it so I am going to assume it’s a real word. I am 29 now, and I have always had the odd zit to deal with. I always thought that I would “grow out” of acne, but that has proved to be completely untrue. That is, until paleo came into my life (look at me, talking about paleo like we fell in love). It may be a small thing to the outside observer, but to me this is quite significant. When I get zits, they are the big red painful ones that last a week (too much information?). And now I just don’t get them like I used to. Yes, I still have the odd one here and there. But overall the difference is astronomical.
And now I’ve come to one of my favourite benefits of paleo. All my life, I have been very lucky to have a strong immune system. The only significant illness I have ever had was the chicken pox. As an adult, I have been able to basically bank on the fact that I only get sick about once a year. But since I started paleo in mid-October, I haven’t been sick once. There was one day where I felt some serious nausea, but that went away after a few hours and then I was fine. Yes, I realize that it’s only been 4 months but I will bet you 5 bucks I won’t get sick anytime in the near future. Any takers?!? I feel like this is attributed in part to the fact that I have eliminated artificial stuff in my food like preservatives and emulsifiers and man-made sweeteners and fats… all of the things our paleo ancestors just didn’t have the opportunity to eat.
In my mind, this is the single most important benefit of eating paleo. A strong immune system and a general, overall healthy body. Yes, I am warding off germs and viruses like crazy. But the best part is more long-term, and I’ll tell you why. I truly believe that paleo eating is the best way to ward off every kind of disease. And for those of you who have read my other posts, you know that I believe the standard north american diet is a huge contributor to modern day ailments like heart disease, arthritis, and type 2 diabetes. I bet you another 5 bucks that I won’t have any of these terrible diseases when I’m 80! Obviously I can’t possibly know how healthy I will be in 50 years. But what I (we) can do is continue to live life in a way that makes me healthy today, and expect it will keep me healthy for years to come.
Finally, I want to talk a bit about something less concrete. And that my friends, is confidence. Ever since starting paleo I have reaped all of the above benefits, which are obviously great. But the best part is that these things have increased my confidence in every aspect of my life. I feel like I can finally walk around without wearing a hoodie over my t-shirt. I can sit on the couch without holding a pillow over my belly. I can go to Mexico and swim without being self-conscious.
And that brings me to the whole point of this post. We can pursue weight loss, we can receive compliments, and we can look better in the mirror. But what’s the point of losing weight if you don’t feel better about yourself? We need to stop worrying about the number on the scale, and start thinking about how we feel. The best part of becoming healthier is the change that happens INSIDE us. So when you look at the scale and see that you haven’t lost any weight this week, do yourself a favour. Take a step back and think about everything you have accomplished besides losing weight. Do you have more confidence? Do you have more energy? Do you lift more weight and run faster than you did before? Do you fit into your clothes better? Do you smile more? These are the things you should think about. Because it’s not just about the scale. It’s about confidence, happiness, and being healthy inside and out.
“Transform who you are, not just how you look”