"I saw few die of hunger; of eating, a hundred thousand." -Ben Franklin

Monday, November 14, 2011

My "Toss the Scale" Moment

For a long time, I both hated and was obsessed with the scale. I thought whatever number flashed in neon colors at me was magical and determined how I felt about myself. I remember being in seventh grade and getting on the scale for the first time in awhile, wearing a brand new pair of size 17 jeans (I'm pretty sure I didn't wear jeans through sixth and half of seventh grade because I liked the comfort/room of sweatpants)... and seeing a pretty high number. That killed me! I had known, of course, that I was heavy-- especially going to a school where there were only 18 girls in my entire grade, I stood out. I also did ballet, and I most definitely stood out there too. The scale, however, solidified it for me.

It was those size 17 jeans and that pretty high number (at the time) that made me first go on Atkins. Thirty pounds and quite a few sizes smaller later, I didn't stand out anymore. But, of course, I couldn't keep up the low-carbing. I started working at Dunkin Donuts in eighth grade, then went to high school (where I was introduced to carby cafeteria food and essentially lived on pizza and Subway during theatre season) and stopped dancing... By the summer of junior year, I was back up to that size 17-- but was 40 pounds heavier than I was at my heaviest in seventh grade! How the hell could that possibly work out?

Long story short, I yo-yo low-carb dieted junior and senior year, but stayed pretty much in the size 12-16 range. Then I started my quest for weight loss and health second semester of freshman year of college (i.e. through Paleo/Primal/real food), and have never looked back. I also stopped weighing myself at some point last year because it was silly-- why should I go by a number? I knew I was healthy, and I've been out of plus-sizes since early 2010 for the first time since that weight loss in seventh grade... so what was the point?

Today solidified why the scale is stupid. I had to get my vitals taken today so a health form for my study abroad program could be signed, and it turns out I am three pounds lighter now than I was at my heaviest in seventh grade!! I was a size 17 then... and a size 6 now. WHOA.

Clearly, that number on the scale means nothing. It doesn't measure health. It doesn't measure your clothing size. It's completely pointless and only serves to stress people out that they're "fat" if they see a certain number. So stop obsessing over a number, especially if you're working out and building muscle, because muscle weighs more than fat! Want more proof? Check out Everyday Paleo's "Attention Scale Addicts, Part 2."

So toss the scale. If you're keeping track of your progress, buy a measuring tape instead and go by inches-- not weight-- lost. Sure, it's awesome to say "I lost [insert #] pounds," but what does that even mean? Nothing, really! I think it's so much more of an accomplishment if you can say "Well, I didn't lose any weight, but I lost [insert #] inches and am now [insert #] sizes smaller!" That number on the scale doesn't represent anything, so please don't freak out about it! Just get rid of it! You are more than a number!

Quote of the Day:
"You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection." -The Buddha

Saturday, November 12, 2011

College Paleo

I apologize for not having updated in quite a few weeks-- between midterms, rehearsals, papers, and just general college stuff, things have been pretty crazy around here! But now that the worst is over (I think), I'll hopefully be able to update more frequently.

Speaking of college, though, I'd like to dedicate this post to my fellow college Paleo enthusiasts, because it seems like we're a growing number! When I first started this lifestyle in February 2010, I didn't know anyone else who ate this way-- I was the girl with the weird diet who wouldn't go out for Wawa milkshakes and would eat Indian food without rice and naan. Since most college events revolve around crappy food, living Paleo/Primal can be extremely isolating-- declining gets you away from the temptation, but going and not eating makes everyone question you and make you feel like you're totally crazy. I'm not going to deny the fact that I felt very alone that first year-- my friends were all really great about my decision to eat clean, but it was still hard if they were all going out for fro-yo or ordering in Insomnia Cookies. I thought that I must be the only college student who ate like this-- because who else in their right mind would give up pizza, mac & cheese, hoagies, and cupcakes?

When I discovered the whole Paleo movement this past January and started networking with other enthusiasts, I noticed that I was younger than everyone else. Although this didn't bother me because the Paleo/Primal community doesn't discriminate based on age (or anything else), it still would've been nice to find people around my age who could relate to being Paleo in college. Over the summer, however, especially with the birth of the International Paleo Movement Group on Facebook and the numerous threads on Paleo Hacks, I started noticing more and more younger people entering the Paleosphere. In fact, the blog Primal University was created back in August geared just towards college Paleos! So I'm not crazy: we are a growing number!

Yes, being Paleo in college can be isolating and frustrating. However, there are so many reasons to adopt this lifestyle as a college student-- the main one being for the stronger immune system. Like I've mentioned in previous posts, I don't get sick (knock on wood), and haven't since I went Paleo. My friends, however, are always sick, and I know that poor nutrition (and thus a weakened immune system) is the primary cause. Your body is like a machine-- fuel it properly and it'll run smoothly and won't break down. With so much going on in school, being sick can be devastating-- making things up from missing classes, rehearsals, practices, or meetings is a hell of a lot harder than eating well! Paleo also taught me about the importance of sleep-- while I think nutrition plays the largest part in being healthy, sleep is absolutely necessary, and I think I get more sleep than 99% of college students. (I usually get at least 8 hours of sleep a night, even on totally packed days... I don't know how some people only run on 4 or 5!)

Another great advantage is that it saves you money. Yes, you might spend more on higher-quality food, but you'll save a lot by not going out for pizza, ice cream, sandwiches, milkshakes, fro-yo, and $6 Venti Iced Peppermint White Chocolate Mochas (or any of the other crazy-named drinks) at Starbucks. Further, I eat out a lot less now because I just don't trust the ingredients at most restaurants-- I never know if there's hidden gluten/soy/vegetable oil/sugar in the food, so it's easier (and better for my health) to just decline most "Let's go out for food!" invites. Not only will that keep my body happy, but it'll keep my wallet happy too.

I also find that I'm a lot less stressed out about things, and I know that a lot of people in the Paleo community can attest to stress levels dropping since going Paleo as well. Semesters are really busy-- every time you finish one thing, there are five more things to finish too! My first semester of college was the only time I wasn't Paleo, and I remember being stressed out about the littlest assignments; now, I tend to handle things pretty well and very rarely freak out about school or extracurriculars. It's actually pretty amazing how much more time you have to be productive when you're not stressed out about things 24/7! I was completely clueless about cortisol pre-Paleo, but now I realize just how much nutrition is connected to absolutely everything else in your body-- and good nutrition certainly helped decrease my cortisol levels!

Everyone has the right to be healthy and happy, so taking control of your life through eating Paleo/Primal/real food is something that can be done at any age. I strongly encourage everyone to give this lifestyle a try, but I'd really love to see more Paleo students! Less sickness, money saved, and less stress? Sounds pretty great!

Since this is a college-themed post, I'd also like to tell you that I'll be studying abroad in Scotland at the University of Edinburgh next semester, so look out for posts starting in January about my food experiences in the UK!

Quote of the Day:
"With realization of one's own potential and self-confidence in one's ability, one can build a better world." -The Dalai Lama