Saturday, August 24, 2013

Setting up my food template for weight maintenance- Paleo & Primal, the transition

I'm blogging about my transition from a packaged food weight loss plan (Take Shape for Life/Medifast) to eating a Paleo & Primal food template.
Transitioning from surf to turf

Step 1- Was losing the weight and picking a weight transition strategy. I blogged about it here

 I'm a scientist so I formed a theory:
 If I use a plan that's been proven by other weight maintainers AND I customize the plan to support my life and health, then I will be successful for a longer time in weight maintenance.

Part of my theory involved learning about the Refuse to Regain author Dr. Berkeley referred to as a "Primarian" diet and the 90 day opt out- eating -page 129 "Lean meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, berries, and low-fat dairy... with one allowable treat"

Experimental Design: Customizing the food template

1. I knew I was a bit lactose intolerant so regular dairy is out.
1.5 I could still tolerate the dairy in the Medifast packets for now, one allowable treat.
2.  A Primal diet without diary is..... Paleo.
3. Research it! I had no idea what Primal or Paleo is, at ALL.

What I had: The internet and the library, and books.
What made total sense: Weight maintenance using whole, real foods, minus food triggers- wheat and processed sugar.
What I had no idea: How to eat Primal/Paleo
What happened in past attempts: a return to the Standard American Diet, weight gain, not effective, not sustainable.

Next Steps: Reading and testing

1. While I had about 10 pounds left to loose I read "The Paleo Solution" by Robb Wolf.
  • I could relate to being previously sick and wanting to be well. ( I had Hashimotos in 1997)
  • I could see how I could eat this way and that my overall health may be improved due to better gut health. 
  • I was still scared about eating fat (years of conventional wisdom, Snackwell cookies, and Weight Watchers meetings)
  • I was totally willing to give this a try. 
  • I felt that my emotional/binge eating would still be in remission with this diet template.
  • I was excited about low inflammatory and leaning out visceral fat . 
  • I spilled coffee on the book and I now own The Paleo Solution
  • That was totally a sign from the universe- I will own paleo from here on out! ;)
2. I need recipes, food I can feed myself first, then eventually feed my late elementary/middle school daughter.  I attended and Everyday Paleo Workshop with Sarah Fragoso and Jason Seib.

Sarah Fragoso and me Feb 2012
  • Best $50 I could ever spend 
  • I learned the science from Jason, as a scientist myself, I appreciated this
  • I learned the food and how Sarah fed her family and her transition to Paleo
  • I learned from the small group discussions how people in my community lived Paleo and how they fed their families
  • I learned about the low inflammatory properties and how it effected overall health.

 3. Keep reading:  I needed to keep reading and start to incorporate the Paleo/Primal template foods into my diet.  I took the Everyday Paleo book on my trip to Georgia. And, I kept my food template steady during transition and the 90 day opt out.  More than recipes- I liked the exercises and overall guidelines, too.

  • I learned how to eat out while traveling
  • I incorporated the avocado, olive oil, salmon, nuts, and other higher fat food super slowly
  • I made a note that I felt great, my weight was staying stable
  • I started phasing out the Medifast Products, slowly but surely
What worked:
1. Reading about low-inflammatory foods
1.5 Eliminating high inflammatory foods. My hs-CRP is now <1
2. Taking a class to learn more
3. Actually practicing what was taught
4. Sticking to a 90 day opt out period
5. Going slowly on the natural fat

What did not work in the past:
1. Not considering, even for a moment, that processed foods MIGHT be a problem (hello WW 2 point bars, 100 calorie packs, Skinny Cow icecream sandwiches, and portions of 2 for 1 candy bars). What was I thinking?  I was not thinking. The SAD diet, sugar and carbs had a huge hold on my sugar/carb fueled brain. I totally forgive myself for this- by the way...
1.5 Not eliminating high infllamatory foods. My hs-CRP was 6.8!
2. Not investing some $$ in continuing education that complemented my highest priories
3. Not actually doing what I planned.
4.  Sticking to a structure plan that was tailored to me and addressed emotional/binge eating
5. Being to scared to eat Avocados because they were high in fat!

Next up.. how the Primal part works with a mainly Paleo (non-dairy) style of diet, and traveling and eating Paleo...


  1. thanks, Karen. I always find something very positive to glean from your posts. I had a small (3 day) set back, but it helped me learn there is still one area I can really improve in, nutrition wise, so I will be tackling that in the coming weeks. Have a great weekend!

  2. Thanks, Gwen. I'm impressed that you are course correcting quickly. Sometimes those set backs are good for key learnings for the next steps. Excited to filling you along through your goal weight and the first year.

  3. Karen, thank you so much. Your words have really really helped me in the last month. I just wish I had paid more attention sooner. But I am over that and totally headed back in the right direction. I have the refuse to relearn book now and will begin diving in after I hit "submit". Approaching things as a scientist makes perfect sense.

    1. Thanks, A. Glad you are forgiving yourself and moving on. I think that by changing what you are doing, knowing what did and did not work- that is all to move you onto the next steps. In away, the past "what didn't work" can cement the new what does work when the going gets tough. Keep on going.

  4. "That was totally a sign from the universe- I will own paleo from here on out! ;)"


    1. Owning it is good- as long as it's your own template that works for you. I'm sure some people are horrified that I weigh in every day (very different than the throw away the scale crowd) yet it's saved me from repeating the past. And I was able to see very clearly that nuts were both causing a likely inflammatory response and lighting up the emotional/binge eating.

      Owning that hybrid or your own customized template is key- IMO.

      Take care, Tess. What is right for you will be revealed. Just hoping my thyroid continues to hang in there at the same dosage (since 1997!).

  5. The hardest thing for me is deviating from a program and feeling guilty about it. You have taught me that it's okay to custom fit Paleo/Primal to fit my needs. I don't feel guilty about the cream in my coffee in the morning, or the wine I drink on long run days. I felt like I had to justify it in the beginning, but I think I'm doing pretty darn good. Love your posts Karen! I always learn something new!

    1. Thanks, Leigh. I figure for each one person, there's going to be one optimal food template. Like an n=1 sample size. Being able to decide YES this is working well or NO, this is a reversal can be clouded by different things.

      Then to add to the complexity, life changes (say routine, job, relationship, kids school schedule) and another round of finding your own template and re-assessing things is born. And the cycle starts again.

      It's a good cycle to be in IMO, better than the Eat, Repent, Repeat. You ARE doing very well , Leigh. Taking any plan and making it fit your life and goals- it's just pure gold. Here's to clarity as we go.

      Keep up the good work.

  6. I swear, it's like you are speaking to me - and only me - with this post! I still add real half & half to my morning coffee, like Leigh does. And I don't feel guilty about it. This weekend, when adding Panko bread crumbs to some recipes I baked, I felt zero guilt. LIke you said, taking a food plan and shaping it to fit your life - you just can't go wrong. :-)