Hi. I’ve been asked by several people what challenges I’ve had in changing over to the Diet Solution and subsequently narrowing down even further to the Paleo Diet. I thought I’d share some of my experiences, learnings, and most importantly past and current challenges I’m finding on this journey.
Weight Loss Challenges
One of my immediate challenges in trying to lose weight was deciding what role exercise would play. Between my job, marriage, and raising 2 kids (one with special needs), I have little to no time to actually have a regimented exercise routine – either at home or the gym. Once the kids are in bed around 8:30pm, I am too exhausted to think about exercising, and often want to use this time to either get caught up on work, or spend time with my wife watching one of our favorite shows or a Netflix movie (we once had a NetFlix movie for over 7 months – we could have bought 10 copies of it at that point!]. So, without major changes in my lifestyle I couldn’t see a path to actually fit in a real exercise and fitness program (even weekends are challenging given house maintenance, family activities, etc.).
One thing I am experimenting with is working on adapting my body to get up at 5:30, which today I used for getting a head start on the commute, but over time would like to reserve some of this slot for a morning routine at home using the treadmill and free weights. However, I’m not quite there yet but am hopeful.
The second major hurdle to figuring out how to lose weight was deciding what diet approach I wanted to follow. Being a fairly technical guy, I did more research than most people probably have an appetite for (no pun intended), and I did know going in I didn’t want any kind of program with ongoing fees, special meal purchases, etc. – I wanted to continue cooking meals and bringing in lunches, and being able to eat out at restaurants without some weird calculator tied around my neck.
My research lead me to believe that reducing or eliminating foods that cause spikes in blood glucose and insulin resistance was the overall healthiest way to start. Aside from weight loss, the research suggested that reverting back to more foods that were pre-agricultural may help with diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and a bunch of other ailments that Western Society really seems to suffer from. My reading also indicated that aside from sheer health benefits, this type of diet would also lead to natural weight loss based on not having gyrating blood sugar levels, and also optimizing the normal functioning of my body which should cause it to not store unneeded fat.
All of this culminated in me purchasing the Diet Solution Program, and I spent a few days reading through the quick-start and the primary book so I had a complete picture before jumping in (Note – after I reviewed and begin implementing the diet, and saw results, I became an affiliate for it as well, which is why you see links throughout my site for it. I believe it is a very credible and effective program when followed, and for $47 was less than half of our normal grocery bill for 1 week).
Starting the Diet
While I’d love to tell you I switched over to the new diet the next day, it really didn’t happen like that. The problem is, my house didn’t have a lot of the “approved” foods in it, and it didn’t make sense to make a grocery list 2 feet long and clear out the cupboards. What did happen over the next 3-5 days was this:
- I printed out the Diet Solution Guide on 3-hole paper and put it in a binder. I needed to be able to quickly flip back and forth across all of the content.
- I skimmed through the recipe guide and identified some that looked easy and quick to prepare, as often we don’t have a lot of time to cook.
- I created a core list of items I would need. Since my wife wasn’t going on the diet, I had to be thoughtful about items that would serve as the main course of a meal, and items on the side that only I would likely eat [while she would have different sides like rice or pasta, bread, etc.]
- This included: Organic Kale, Apples, Bananas, Walnuts and Almonds, eggs, and frozen vegetables
- While many of these are typically in our house, I began buying double or triple the amount we usually had as I’d be consuming a lot more of them on a daily basis.
- Grass fed beef and organic chicken – we started buying these types of meats right near the start of the diet, based on my research on health benefits. Not cheap though.
- Our next grocery trip we loaded up on our usual items as well as the above list. We didn’t buy as many sides like bread, rice, pasta, cookies, etc. as I wouldn’t be eating those any longer.
- I asked my wife to make sure there was a double helping of a vegetable each night for dinner (she cooks through the week, and me on the weekends)
- I asked my wife to not include any breading on my portion if she was making Shake-n-Bake chicken, or fish fillets, etc.
- I cut out all sugar products (exceptions: dark chocolate, occasional lemonade), as well as bread, rice, pasta, and any other wheat or grain based product.
- I reduced my cheese consumption, but didn’t initially eliminate it completely.
So this wasn’t a bad start. However, I quickly found that lunches became a major issue, as leftovers typically consist of a little bit of the main course and a lot of pasta or grain products. It took me another week to realize that on Sat/Sun when I was cooking that I needed to cook extra portions [i.e. beef, chicken, fish, pork] to freeze for my lunches the following week.
The other conscious decision I made was to allow myself 1 day a week where I could legally “cheat”, and have pizza or bread, or cheese and crackers, etc. I personally think this is needed to basically offset real life circumstances – i.e. you’re at a ballgame all day long, or a cookover, or your family is really craving pizza one night – I found it unrealistic to assume under every single scenario I could stay 100% compliant.
Key Learnings After 3 Months on the Diet
- I’ve lost 2 inches around my waist [2 belt notches]
- I have more energy and mental alertness
- I didn’t miss pasta, rice, bread, etc. after the first couple of days (no major cravings)
- My blood results have improved (cholesterol, triglycerides) from a year ago, although still not in the normal ranges
- I’ve gotten smarter about having snacks at work to munch on – nitrite free jerky (Costco), hard boiled eggs, and a massive bag of walnuts and almonds
- I’m eating more fruits and vegetables daily than at any other point in my life
- Red wine is my weakness. I have not managed to give this up yet, so it is no doubt impacting forward progress to some degree, and likely not favorable to the underlying health benefits of the Diet Solution / Paleo diet. This remains a work in progress and challenge
- Diet Coke – I still drink 3-4 of these a day, and this will be hard to break. I’ve not seriously tried to eliminate yet, but know it needs to happen and likely won’t be pretty.
- Some days I run out of frozen lunch items, or lean nitrite free lunch meat, and find myself at work eating almonds and walnuts for lunch
- Frozen vegetables seem like an easy option to take to work, but preparation and messiness can be a challenge in our little kitchen in the office
- I forget about fresh produce in the fridge, and every week throw it away spoiled
- I still eat potatoes – less frequently, but have not managed to eliminate them completely as it is a side the entire family can eat on busy days
- Potato chips have proven impossible to give up so far
- It is honestly more work to prepare meals since the rest of my family isn’t on the diet. We already prepare a different meal for our son with autism, and now whoever is cooking has to prepare different sides [not all the time] for me versus my wife/daughter.
- Of the 3 books I read, none of them really gave me the list of concise tips and tricks to make complying with this diet easy (see below), so I had to learn them the hard way
- I learned the hard way that you shouldn’t eat too much green vegetables in one sitting!
There are time saving tips that I wish I had known about when I started the diet solution:
- Always have hard boiled eggs in the fridge. Easy to grab and go
- Plan on buying a dozen eggs (organic, cage free) a week no matter what. Use them as fillers or quick meals on the weekends.
- Kale spoils within a few days. Now I wash, cut, and freeze it in a ziploc bag the same day I buy it. It takes 30 seconds to reheat a portion for my dinner when I get home
- Olive oil – don’t forget to buy extra (used more for vegetables)
- Pears are really messy to eat at work
- Jimmy Dean All Natural Tube Sausage – Walmart/Costco. Cheap, nitrite/msg free, and slice/cook/freeze all the patties on a weekend to use for individual breakfast protein item
- Beef and Turkey Jerky [Costco/Amazon nitrite free]. Use as an emergency snack or meal protein source given price [but good to have on hand]
- Grass fed (antibiotic/hormone free) beef is a lot cheaper from a Colorado ranch versus Whole Foods, and you can buy small quantities up to a 1/4 or 1/2 cow, all delivered in prepackaged cuts such as steaks, roasts, ground beef, etc.
- Grabbing something for breakfast is hard, especially a protein. The frozen sausage tip above works, as does fruit of course and in a crunch I eat walnuts in the morning.
- Cook Kale and other veggies in Coconut oil. Not cheap, but very healthy and adds good flavor.
- Have a water bottle at hand at all times – drinking water throughout the day and not just at meals is very helpful and healthy. Use ceramic, stainless steel, or glass.
- Ask to substitute at a restaurant. Even if not on the menu they have always had a fresh vegetable and even fruit option when asked. They are happy to replace that rice or pasta or bread with one of those options.
- Many meals become a salad – whether the base is lettuce or kale or spinach. Be sure and have vinegar/oil, or a healthy dressing always on hand at home.
Overall I would still have to say the good far outweighs the challenges. I do feel healthier, and am losing fat and weight without having an exercise program in place yet. I have to believe I am also helping prevent future health issues as well given what I am eating now.
I’ll keep you updated over the coming months on how I’m doing on the diet, and will add in any new tips, challenges, or successes as I go. I’m always looking for more knowledge and experience, so don’t hesitate to email me with your tricks of the trade!
Russell May 4, 2012