Today is Day 21!
When I started this challenge, I wondered if this final post would recount a boring, flavorless month. Well, that is not the case. I cannot say that the month was not a little difficult for me, because it was. But as I’ve said before, everything worth having is worth a little sacrifice. And after 21 days of strict Paleo (I actually combined my 21 days with a Whole30 – 9 days left on that!) + no fruit or sweet potatoes, I can tell you that I have learned ALOT.
1. I learned that vegetables are sweeter than I thought! When you’re not chomping juicy apples and grapes, it’s easier to notice the delicious sweetness of a ripe carrot, or of caramelized onions and zucchini. I am a little worried that the frozen blueberries I nibble tomorrow might be TOO sweet for me!
2. I learned that I had become far too dependent on fruit for snacks. They are not always bad options for snacks (in fact, sometimes they are excellent options!), but fruits were starting to make up all of my snacks. That’s not good. During the 21 days, I was really forced to find other snack alternatives. We ate alot of baby carrots, we found a love for kale chips (done right!), we enjoyed more raw vegetables than ever before, and, as a results, we had more energy throughout the days!
3. I learned that I was consuming too much sugar, in general. When I originally told you about my Epic February plans, I mentioned that I was dealing with some health issues. One of them was that my leptin sensitivity had changed. I was not feeling hungry when I should have been feeling hungry, and I would sometimes feel STUFFED as soon as I started to eat. This is often a sign of insulin resistance, so I knew that something was off. After 21 days of getting my blood sugar levels regulated, I am no longer dealing with this issue. It’s nice to feel hungry when I’m hungry, and full when I’m full!
4. I learned that chocolate was my “I’m bored” food. It happened almost every day during the challenge… when I was between work and other projects, or when I was procrastinating making dinner, I would suddenly think: “hey, I want some chocolate!” That was very interesting to me, because I never thought that I was only eating those handfuls of chocolate chips out of boredom. Sure, they are delicious, but every single time I craved them during my 21 days was when I didn’t have something else going on. Crazy!
5. I learned that energy lasts throughout the day if you focus on fats and proteins. I don’t remember having one blood sugar crash during the 21 days. You know what I mean… no “I’m suddenly about to collapse for no apparent reason” moments. No weird mood swings that made my husband ask “is it that time for you?” I will be sure that I balance my future fruit intake with greater amounts of fat and protein! It was nice to be “going strong” all day!
6. I have learned that an after-dinner “sweet treat” is not absolutely necessary. It is surprising how a nice cup of hot tea can finish out a perfect evening.
7. I have learned that fruit does not fill me up and keep me full. I’m sure some of you are saying “well, duh,” but this has actually been a pretty amazing realization for me. We have not required as many snacks throughout the 21 days because we stayed satiated for longer amounts of time.
8. I have learned that coconut cream concentrate is amazing. Seriously. It is.
9. I have learned that sweet potatoes are not necessary for Paleo survival. I love them, but I won’t die without them.
10. Finally, I have learned that any food, in too great an abundance, is not the healthiest choice you can make for yourself. Fruit and carbohydrates in and of themselves are not BAD, but if they are not properly balanced, they can still cause problems! Maybe you have your balance under control, but I had definitely allowed myself to see fruits, sugars, and carbs as the ultimate treats, and I was treating myself too often. I am really excited to be back on level ground, and I think I’m healthier than ever!
So what now? Am I going to celebrate my fantastic level of self-discipline and achievement by gorging out on fruits and sweet potatoes tomorrow? Um, no. I might make a small smoothie (1/2 a banana, full-fat coconut milk, a handful of blueberries, and some cinnamon) to go with my high-protein/high-fat lunch, but that will probably be the only fruit I have all day. My habits have changed, and my cravings are different. From now on, my sugar intake will be FAR from where it was before this challenge, and I’m okay with that! What a thought!
If you are interested in taking this challenge on for yourself, YOU SHOULD! It reveals so much about your health, and brings your nutrition into proper balance. The guidebook is vital to success. Diane Sanfilippo is brilliant, and has filled her guide with valuable information to help you understand what you’re doing and WHY you’re doing it. It also includes a ton of fantastic recipes! Check it out here.