I thought staying fit and eating healthy after 30 meant giving up every food I loved!
Our healthy eating journey actually started about two and a half years ago. Like most major life transformations, we had mis-starts and stumbles along the way. But we learned something valuable from each one that led us to where we are today.
My hubby has lost over 45 pounds and I have lost about 30 pounds.
In addition to our weight-loss success, we are ecstatic about the early eating habits our kids are developing. Our kids sneak into the kitchen to steal fruit out of the fridge, instead of unhealthy snacks from the pantry. Speaking of the pantry, we don’t keep much in there anymore.
It all started after reading 4-Hour Body by Tim Ferris. He hacks everything in his life and experiments on himself. We started following his slow-carb diet which definitely produced results quickly. We followed his diet for a little over a year, more faithfully at first, but it was clear to us it wouldn’t be sustainable. The diet called for lots of meat, vegetables, beans and brown rice, no carbs or starches (like pasta, bread, potatoes), no dairy, and little fruit. It got boring fast, since there was very little variation from day to day, and we were never inspired to experiment with different meals. My hubby did better on the diet. He does not crave variety as much as I do.
What We Learned from 4-Hour Body
Although the slow-carb diet was not the end of our journey, it taught us several super valuable things:
- We did not die without bread and pasta…as a self-proclaimed pasta addict, I was pretty convinced we might. In fact, after serveral weeks we didn’t even miss it anymore. And, on cheat days (once a week on 4-hour body diet), if we had a lot of carbs, we got a seriously bloated feeling making us vow to never eat them again.
- Cooking healthy meals is easier and faster than the junk we used to eat. Seriously, it only takes 10-12 minutes to make a great steak. That is less time than it takes to make spaghetti.
- My hubby was willing to take the lead and put in extra effort to make our whole family healthier. It is not that I didn’t want to be healthy, but I succumb more easily to convenient options (like anything from the freezer section). My hubby was willing to do the research. He was willing to make an extra trip to a different grocery store to get some ingredients. He was willing to look up and try different recipes. Over time, I got interested in this new hobby, too, as I saw the results.
The Transition to Paleo
As our faithfulness to the slow-carb diet was waning, my hubby read Wheat Belly, which was an eye-opening read and ultimately led him to research Paleo dieting. From slow-carb to Paleo was a pretty smooth and welcome transition. No more beans (I hate beans). And, the biggest challenge for most people is giving up grains, but we had already done most of that when we gave up bread and pasta.
Paleo opened a whole new world of delicious opportunity. We have become mildly obsessed with trying new things and finding Paleo ways to make old favorites (think waffles, bread, scones…yum!).
Paleo is a lifestyle we have maintained for almost a year now and think we will stick with the rest of our lives.
A paleo diet, also sometimes called a Caveman diet, is about eating what would have been naturally available to us in the caveman days…think: hunt and gather. Our diet staples are meat, fruits, vegetables (lots of leafy greens), and nuts (other than peanuts).
With all diets there are die-hard extremists, but when it comes to Paleo we are faithful, not extremists. By that I mean we do not eat pasta, bread, grains, or dairy. We use substitutions for many other things, that the extremists don’t necessarily believe in. Instead of cows milk we drink almond milk or coconut milk. Instead of sugar, we use Stevia, maple syrup, agave syrup, or honey as sweeteners. We bake, but not with traditional flour. We bake with almond flour, coconut flour, arrowroot powder, and even cashews.
I like this article on the 7 Shades of Paleo. We are somewhere between a 3 and 4. And, on off weeks I turn into a 5 (just being honest).
Surprising Foods We eat Now, But Used to Think Were Bad For Us
Some of the things that might surprise you most about our diet are the things we do eat, which we grew up believing to be bad for us. Note there are some guidelines for what qualifies as healthy for each of these.
- Eggs including yolks – cage-free, organic
- Bacon (and lots of it, yum!) – uncured, nitrate and nitrite free
- Full-Fat Yogurt – plain Greek yogurt with 5g sugar or less
- Butter – organic, grass-fed
- Red Meat – grass-fed beef
- Chocolate – dark (70% or more cocoa), Enjoy Life Chocolate Chips or chunks for baking
We have found so much more variety in the Paleo diet, in part do to the many cooking and baking substitutes. We have actually become cooking hobbyists now, experimenting with new recipes or paleo-friendly substitutions. As an added benefit most paleo food is gluten-free.
Here are some great sites and books we recommend to learn more about Paleo and for recipes:
- Mark’s Daily Apple, author of the Primal Blueprint
- The Calorie Myth (explains why low-carb or Paleo diets work)
More About What Our Kids Eat
We are proud to say our kids have always mostly eaten the same meals we do (except when they were on baby food). With a few notable exceptions, they are also on a Paleo diet.
Our kids eat approximately 50-75% Paleo approved foods. They still love macaroni and cheese, but we now make a gluten-free, organic variety. My oldest still has bread and peanut butter in his school lunch. And, we make the kids gluten-free, organic chicken nuggets. Other than that, they eat what we eat…even begging for some Paleo meals, like other kids might beg for pizza. It really is true we find them in the fridge all the time smuggling fruit. We do not keep sweets or candy in the house. The kids have also switched to drinking almond milk or dark chocolate almond milk, instead of cows milk.
What Took Me So Long to Tell You About This
I waited so long to post about this, because it is a bit different than a DIY project. I feel comfortable sharing a DIY or decorating project immediately after the fact because there are instant results to show. A diet or lifestyle change does not happen overnight and I wanted proven results before sharing our story. I think the 75 pounds combined my hubby and I have lost so far qualifies as proven results.
You might wonder why my hubby has had greater success…well , he tried harder. I cheated a ton on the slow-carb diet. On Paleo, I cheat far less, but I still have a weakness for coca-cola and sweets…which I am working on! Seeing my hubby’s results is making me work harder now.
I should also note that over the last year we have also tried to exercise regularly, although neither of us was super consistent until this past month where we both started doing p90x3 in our basement home gym. So we do not attribute our weight loss so far to exercise.
Look Forward to Our Paleo Recipes
I plan to start periodically sharing some of our favorite paleo recipes on the blog. I think you’ll love them, because many are 5-7 ingredients or less, and of course super yummy!
Like I said we are not extremists or experts, but feel free to hit us up with questions below!
Hi Jackie! Thanks for this inspiring post! I would love to implement the “no sweets in the house” rule, because I spend more time in the house than anyone, so I end up eating the most!
Melissa, Along with sweets, we also ban soft drinks from the house. Which has helped me greatly reduce how much Coke I drink. No I can only order it when we are out and have to face the hubby giving me the evil eye and telling me how many tablespoons of sugar are in it!
Thanks for sharing – our family has been on a low/no carb diet since the beginning of the year so always good to hear other people’s take on the lifestyle change! I also thought I would miss pasta, but so far not at all! Getting away from my coca-cola is proving much harder so I feel your pain ;)
Lizelle, I was able to switch partially to coffee. We make ours at home and I add a packet of Stevia to sweeten it. That way I get the sweet and the caffeine I crave from the coke.
Thank you for sharing! Would love to know more and look forward to the recipes!
Renee @ Casa Stephens says
I love that you’re sharing this! We’ve been transitioning into Paleo for the past year and you’re so right, when you cheat, you feel so gross afterwards, it motivates you to stay clean! I would love to hear more about the things you cook for your family (or your husband cooks…whichever ha!)
Renee, Thank you. The hubs and I split the cooking about 50/50 now, but he’s the one that makes the best chocolate chip cookies I have ever had (recipe coming soon)!
Great job on your healthy life! Isn’t is crazy how it was pounded into our brains that low-fat was the way to eat and be healthy? Turns out that was making people sick. Have you read One Simple Change? It has lots of easy changes you can implement for a healthy life. Its an easy read too.
My husband does so well when he avoids bread and grains. I was thinking of switching totally to paleo, but not as extreme. Probably more like what you do. Thank you for the information!
Oh and I will need my sweets every now and then too :)
MB, Thanks for the One Simple Change recommendation. I will check that out. I forgot to mention we also keep a copy of Time What to Eat Now on our coffee table. It is a good reference book.
I’m so interested in paleo, thank you for sharing! One thing I need to research more for my family would be the adjustment on the grocery budget. I know there are those who say they can’t put a price on their health, or pay extra now or pay extra doctor bills in the future. I get that, but we have a large family & our grocery bill is already hefty. Lots to look into… thanks again!
Ash, It is definitely worth looking into, but yes buying organic and lots of produce can cost more. A few ways we save is buy shopping at 3 different grocery stores (for example the uncured Bacon at Trader Joes is the least expensive, so we stock up). We also try to stick with seasonal fruits and veggies (which gets hard in Minnesota), but if strawberries are more than $2.99 a pound, I buy blackberries or whatever else is cheaper instead. We eat a lot of meat, so I buy in bulk whenever there is a good deal and I freeze it. And, keep in mind that although we spend more per item on these healthier foods, there are a whole list of things we don’t buy at all (bread, pasta, cereal, chips, crackers, cheese, ice-cream, etc), so in the end I think it is a wash and our weekly grocery bill is the same. Plus, with the focus on our health we eat out far less than we used too. Instead of $50-60 for a family of four to eat out once…we can buy enough meat to eat really well at home for a week. At least that is how I justify buying filet mignon to make at home.
Great job! I do Crossfit and eating Paleo is big with Crossfitters. We mostly eat Paleo ( have been strict in the past) but we do eat brown rice, poatatoes and have bread occasionally. Keep up the good Paleo work!
Thanks for sharing. So a big question. Have you noticed a difference in your attitudes? We have a kiddo that if he does not eat on the clock he is a bear to deal with. So when we find him dipping low and we are out and about I literally will give him anything within arms reach that will make him bearable. Just curious if you have noticed any attitude changes?
Jesse, Yes!! I get super crabby when I am hungry, but on Paleo I am eating a lot of protein which gives me more sustained energy. I find I can go longer between snacks before the crabby sets in. Also, our oldest tends to misbehave when he has a lot of sugar. We have definitely noticed a change in him with eating healthier. One important trick is finding snacks you can keep with you…like almonds or cashews for when hunger strikes and you are out.
This was a great post- I have only recently heard about this and have been interested in learning more. Look forward to your recipes and tips!
ooooh glad to hear this – me and the hubster are researching, collecting recipes and trying some out – so I love that you will be sharing recipes!!! way to go – inspiring!!!
Dani, Yay! Look forward to some easy-peasy recipes that will make the switch easier.
Hi Jackie-My husband and I have been doing Paleo for about a month. I have lost any weight (I don’t really need to), but my husband has lost about 10 lbs. I don’t miss pasta or bread, but I do miss rice. I have cheated here and there which may be why I haven’t lost. I’m also obsessed with nuts and eat way more than the recommended serving since they fill me up and are crunchy. The upside is that I haven’t eaten so many veggies in my life. I’m looking forward to hearing more about your adventure any any recipes you recommend!
Lisa, Excited for you and your hubby. I totally understand the nut-overdose, since it is such a good snack. Maybe try forcing yourself to dink a glass of water or eat a handful of fruit before indulging on the nuts :)
Tiffany S. says
Thanks so much for posting this. I have some odd issues in that I have reactive hypoglycemia, I have a thyroid issue, and I’m allergic to almonds. I have definitely found that low-carb makes me feel better and just today my naturopath said I should definitely keep gluten out of my diet (It can cause inflammation for thyroid patients). Eating like this hasn’t ever caused me to lose much weight but I’ll focus more on how I feel rather than what I weigh. Looking forward to more of these posts.
Tiffany, Oh no! I have not researched it much, but there are so many conditions that can be helped with gluten-free and low-carb diets. You’ll have to avoid some of my recipes which use almond meal, but don’t worry there are others that are almond free. Coming soon!
Thanks for sharing! Ive been doing Paleo for a few months and love it. Not only have I lost over 20 lbs but I feel sooooo much better! I had GURD, reflux, heartburn so bad it affected my evryday life. I even had to sleep with my head elevated. Within a week of not eating grains I was 75% better, now I’m about 95% better and feel great!
My biggest problem is finding affordable grass fed meat, butter, and nitrate free bacon (we dont haveTrader Joes) for the bacon. Where do you get your meat…local or shipped? Thanks!
Joann, We buy all of our meat and butter local. We just shopped around to figure out which stores had the best price. I also stock up if there is a sale or coupon. For chicken, we don’t buy boneless, skinless (which costs more). Sorry I don’t have more advice. Once you cut all the unhealthy stuff from the grocery bill, you’ll have a little more to spend on the good stuff.
Stacey Wilson says
Hi Jakckie, quick question: is it possible to do Paleo in a vegan manner (or mostly vegan, keeping animal products to less than 10% of total caloric intake)?
Stacey, I honestly don’t know. With the amount of meat and eggs we consume I could see that being hard. The article linked above called 7 Shades of Paleo talks about Vegan Paleo. Might be a place to start your research.
Susan J says
Because of health issues, my physician recommended that I go wheat, soy, and dairy free. I am struggling a bit and am inspired by your success and look forward to recipes.
How are you eating greek yogurt if you are dairy free? That is what I am missing the most. I have only found vanilla coconut yogurt at my local market. I miss the variety.
Susan, We are not 100% dairy free. We do not drink cow’s milk and very rarely eat cheese. We have a small amount of full-fat Greek yogurt. The yogurt and butter we eat are a good source of healthy fat. Our kids eat the yogurt as a snack. My husband and I usually just add a dollop to our green shakes before mixing. It is important to note Paleo is not a non-fat diet. You still need healthy fats in your diet.
I have a question, and maybe it’s silly. Here it is: if you drink coconut and almond milk, why don’t you drink cow milk? I’m assuming you’re not lactose intolerant. I guess what I’m asking is what’s so bad about cow milk?
As a sub-question, why eat yogurt, butter, and chocolate, if you’ve given up milk? I thought that all three of those things were made with milk.
I’m always curious about new ways to live healthier, but I know that it will be really hard for me to give up milk, so I’m looking for some strong, convincing reasons. It’s easier to give something up if I know the justification for it.
Jess, It is not a requirement to give up milk or dairy. Many people do, because they have digestive issues with dairy. Our oldest is allergic to cow’s milk. The rest of us are not lactose intolerant, but we tried the almond milk anyway and really liked it. So we all drink the same milk now. We mostly use the coconut milk in green shakes.
I am not an expert here, but as far as yogurt, and even cheese for that matter, they are made from milk, but in the process almost all the lactose is broken down making those dairy items easier to digest. The reason we actually eat full-fat yogurt is for the fat. It is important to balance protein, carbs, and good fats. Grass-fed butter and full fat yogurt are a healthy source of fat. Some people believe in drinking raw milk.
There are several grey areas in Paleo beliefs and dairy is one of them. If you tolerate it well, you could keep milk in your diet. Also, consider trying almond milk or coconut milk, which you might like. I encourage you to look into the sites I have linked above, most of them talk about dairy.
Reading Wheat Belly changed my life! I wasn’t interested in losing weight, just learning about nutrition and how wheat affects our body. After reducing wheat for months, I went cold turkey off of it. I feel amazing! My skin cleared up and my endometriosis that I had for 15 years WENT AWAY! I also read “It Starts with Food” and I didn’t do the diet but I’m working on reducing my legumes and dairy to be somewhere on the Paleo spectrum. I’ve noticed HUGE changes in my family, less grumpiness, less tantrums, less snacking and less urges for sweets after dinner! We’re still working on getting the kids to jump on board but we’re working on it!
Congratulations on your success and thank you for sharing!
Christina, Wheat Belly was definitely a turning point for us, too. With the kids we do lots of experimentation. We may never get them to eat something a second time after they decide they don’t like it, but we can always keep trying new things they have not had before. Keeps it fun. Earlier this week we tried mini zucchini pizzas (which have very little cheese). One kid liked them, the other didn’t (the hubby and I thought they were delicious). We are going to try making a cauliflower crust next.
Love your blog! I always try to find healthier options for my family. It’s really hard with my kids since they are extremely picky eaters. I would LOVE for you to share your favorite recipes because if you say they are good I know I would try to make them :)
Sandra, Thank you. I will start sprinkling the recipes in amongst my other posts within the next week.
Locally, tailor made nutrition offers reasonably priced paleo cooking classes that you may be interested in:). Just an FYI!
I was a total pasta addict too and never thought I could give it up, but I have been amazed how easy it is. I can’t wait to see your recipes as I am always looking for new ones. My new favorite food is spaghetti squash.
Lindsey, I know. I feel so much better without the pasta! We love spaghetti squash, too.
Terri A. says
Thank you for sharing. I’ve been interested in Paleo but wasn’t quite sure where to start. Guess I’ll start with reading Wheat Belly. :)
I’ve got a cousin who has been doing paleo for over a year now and she says she loves it. I keep saying I want to try to make a few meals here and there to get into it, but have yet to do so! Hopefully I can get going with some of the recipes you post! :)
So I have just now discovered your blog and wanted to tell you that I already love it!! My family has become increasingly paleo over the past year due to food allergies. We first discovered that our daughter has a pretty mad milk allergy when she was 3 months old. And so our new normal began. I realized that I have had I diagnosed food allergies my whole life and am currently doing a gluten elimination trial, and actually starting to feel better for the first time ever! So I am thrilled to find your blog with paleo recipes I love (banana bread is a childhood favorite!) Keep up the good work! Maybe soon I’ll finally blog about our allergy journey…
Christine, So sorry to hear about all of the allergy troubles. My oldest has a mild milk allergy and switching to the almond milk and cutting dairy has been so good for him. I just recently started sharing about our Paleo journey and plan to continue posting recipes.
If you blog from your heart and share your story…you can never go wrong!