I’m stoked to introduce y’all to a good friend of mine Hillary who offered to share her story and experiences in this Against the Grain lifestyle. When I first met her a few months back, she was a rockstar with her diet, with one exception… She was…*cue suspenseful music* a cereal monkey… This is her story…
This was my first adventure in entering the Paleo lifestyle… From cereal monkey to a protein primate.
To give some sort of reference, I’ll begin by saying that I wasn’t a big pasta or rice eater by nature. So, of course, that was what I gave up right away! But then came the the sad, sad reality of what I had to give up next… Time out. Mind you, I say “give up.” That just sounds bad, right? Take out “give up” and insert “replace.” It will instantly do wonders for your willpower. Ok, so then came the time to REPLACE some of my most favorite foods… Foods that I wanted to be buried with… Cereal, chips, oats and most importantly, muffins! Oh, glorious muffins and oh, what to do… I had been researching paleo muffin recipes , knowing i must prepare, and given my god given baking talent and abilities, I was confident that I could create an alternative muffin that fit the paleo rules. If you havent discovered coconut flour and almond flour yet, please peruse the alternative flour section with the other hippies. dont worry, they dont bite, they just smell ripe but play well with others.
I am now happily living in a muffin paradise of epic variety and possibilities. However… CEREAL was the arrow in my Hilly’s heel. Now, i use cereal here as an example to shed light on a journey in the evolution of diet habits. Cereal is merely a widget in this story so take out “cereal” and insert whatever food vice makes you weak in the knees or that you THINK you can’t give up. Prior to going paleo, I lived on cereal. It was my go to snack. Road trips, at work, a handful before I left the house, you name it. Albeit, I only ate healthy-ish cereals that were low in sugar, whole grains, etc but it had to go. The oats and oatmeal? Doable. However, cereal was a struggle.
How did I do it? I sure didn’t go cold turkey (though I eventually switched to cold turkey… Slices!). It took tiiiiiime. I didn’t go paleo over night and I sure as hell didn’t give up cereal instantly. It took a few months to clean up my diet. The key for me was understanding and working with my own will power, workout schedule and food availability to make sure I was successful and didn’t take two steps back. Not everyone’s wired the same and that’s what we’ve got to understand. Power to the cold turkeys but I’m a warm duck. Ok, that doesn’t make sense but you know what I mean.
First, I cut way back on how much cereal I ate per day. I created little single servings that I’d munch on during the day for a few weeks. In this weaning process, I discovered what has been the key to making changes in my diet. I identified what I craved, which wasn’t actually the cereal… It was the availability, ease of consumption and the crunch.
As my need for cereal dwindled, knowing this little psychological secret, my habits started to change. I started snacking on nuts which filled ease of access and ease of consumption void. Check! I found that Roasted nuts were crunchier and worked better 🙂 I started mixing it up between sunflower seeds, peptitas, walnuts, whatever. After about a month, I was cereal free!
Prior to this process, I had tried to replace cereal before… And failed. What did I do wrong? I kept buying it and I’d say, oh, I’ll finish the box then stop. Didn’t happen that way. I had to stop and say, ok, I have to wean myself off of it. Finally, I felt confident enough and I threw it all out. It felt awesome and I can safely say that I do not crave cereal anymore. I was known for my cereal addiction far and wide. Actually, I can’t believe I ever ate so much of it. It was merely a matter of changing habits and that doesn’t happen overnight. I practiced this same “weaning” for chips. Nuts fill that space now, too. And I know you won’t believe it but I don’t miss any of it.
Remember, one of the MOST important things when weaning off of foods is making sure you have instant go-to snacks so you don’t cave. Lunchmeat, carrots (hello, crunch) nuts and even small meat patties are life savers. At work, I go to the fridge and grab lunchmeat to snack on or pop a little venison slider. It’s a matter of prep especially if you work 40 hours a week like me and have a bonkers, all over the place schedule. Sometimes I can’t eat on a regular schedule so having those “poppable” sources of protein and veggies are crucial. All of which were a learning process.
I weaned myself into paleo in November, took a more hard core approach December 1 and now I don’t crave non paleo foods. I crave protein. I suppose I have changed my body to know that’s what it wants and needs or it was merely a change in habits that synced up my crazy brain and body to “think” paleo. Regarding my physical body, I noticed a drastic change in muscle mass. I have always been thin but not very muscular, as I am a runner. When I went paleo, especially in December, I noticed more muscle tone (including some killer abs that were safely hidden beneath a little soft blankie) plus true muscle mass overall in my legs, glutes, arms, you name it. I weigh about the same but people often say I look leaner and my friends and coworkers are commenting on how healthy and fit I look. I used to get “thin” and “skinny” for years, as “compliments.” Now, it’s “fit and healthy” and I think that’s worth a million bucks more than the former and are true compliments. Not only is being fit, healthy and muscular good for my psyche but my body is thanking me, too.
XOXO… Cereal Monkey