That’s right. You heard me. I’ma let that sink in for a second.
Did you find Paleo/Primal because you wanted to lose pounds? If I had never started gaining weight, I never would have changed my eating habits. It’s that simple. Weight gain is often the first sign we get (or actually listen to) that something has gone awry in our bodies.
Any of you who have read Robb Wolf, Nora Gedgaudas, or Catherine Shanahan, to name a few, won’t be surprised by this. It has to do with cell signaling, and one of the ways we direct cell traffic is through the foods we eat every day. In a basic sense, weight gain is one of many responses to food that makes our bodies unhappy. This is why it absolutely matters what we eat.
But we all know people who are either thin despite eating crap or who go through phases of gain and loss, thinking that all they have to do is torture themselves with extra exercise to get it under control. Some of them might even acknowledge that sugar is bad or that gluten intolerance exists, just not for them. But because they aren’t manifesting symptoms that society recognizes as deleterious, they see no reason to make drastic changes. Why mess with success?
I’m going to be frank:
- Just because you’re not gaining weight doesn’t mean you’re avoiding all the other damage. We don’t get to pick and choose how this stuff makes its mark. Why wait until we push our bodies to the brink? Besides, we’ve all heard of the thin and fit 39 year old who had a heart attack. Don’t be that person. Thin folks get heart disease, cancer, diabetes, depression, and infertility issues too.
- For those who think that all they have to do is exercise more, I present the case Taubes uses in the beginning of his book Why We Get Fat—a man who had been running marathons for 30 years, a distance roughly three times around the world in total. He only got fatter in that time. At some point this stops working. At some point you will ask yourself if working out 7 days a week for an hour at a time is actually possible or advisable. And why didn’t anyone have to do this in the 1950s? Our bodies are simply not designed to sustain a calorie deficit, either from exercise or from diet restrictions. Besides, wouldn’t you be happier if you could maintain your weight without the torture? Join us, we have bacon.
I ignored many symptoms before the weight gain crept up on me. Acne, anxiety, gas, bloating, low energy. After I had my daughter I added poor sleep, headaches, and joint pain. Another clue I missed was WHERE the weight was going. For some reason, the fat we deposit as a result of our SAD goes to specific places like our abdomens. In my case, my lower body was suddenly padded with a layer of fat that hid the awesome muscles I knew lurked beneath. And I don’t just mean on my butt or thighs, I mean I had cellulite on my ankles, y’all. That ain’t right. But it just didn’t make any sense to me that these issues would have a common denominator and that it would be diet. I laughed at those people and now I am one of them. That’s fine, I can handle the scorn.
I am not, however, saying that if you still have pounds to lose, that you should feel blessed. No. In fact, that situation sucks, especially if you’re not losing as fast or as easily as you’d hoped. It’s hard to be patient when all over the Paleosphere folks are singing the praises of ancestral nutrition and looking like fitness models. For some people, like myself, all it took was a simple tweak to reverse the progression and restore balance. For others, it’s a complex issue with many factors, and teasing all of those factors out can be exhausting and frustrating. See here for my love letter to you folks.
It’s important to keep our expectations in check. So while weight isn’t my current frustration, I’m irritated that Paleo hasn’t cured my husband’s chronic eczema or my dumpy butt. I’m currently sick with a cold, and if I hear one more person claim that Art De Vany hasn’t had a cold in thirty years, I will harm them in some fashion to be determined at a future date.
But I can’t put a price on how valuable it’s been to me to have an answer. A real answer. Not vague platitudes about how it’s the aging process or how it must be my genes. Eff that. Those answers are for pansies who are too scared to accept responsibility for their own lives.
Because here’s the clutch. The bad news is that it’s all in your hands alone. And the good news? It’s up to you! You’re the captain of your own ship! Be a lantern unto yourself! Yay! Now go make some bone broth. What’s that? You need a recipe? I’ve got one coming up for you Thursday. (Ed. Note: Oops! Totally forgot to post that recipe! As penance, I will post it sometime soon as a bonus post.)