The Blog

Beyond the Paleo

I was drawn to this way of eating because grains were the basis of my meals; lunches were a sandwich, quick easy dinner was microwave brown rice and a stir fry and Paleo seemed to be a good way of consciously increasing veg and reducing grains and sugar in my diet.

I was moaning to my hairdresser the other day that I was convinced the Spice Girls were more successful than Dubstar partly because I had cellulite and couldn't even imagine squeezing one of my thighs, let alone my whole body, into those iconic but minuscule costumes....

Isn't it funny how we let our perceived list of physical faults stand in the way of achieving our dreams.

Well I'm certainly guilty anyway. Of living in the "when" not the "now".

Some of you reading will think this is just plain stupid, but I have discussed with female friends and I know I'm not alone in my bonkers thinking; I will be successful when I have thin thighs, when I have a bottom like golden hot-panted wonder-Kylie. Life will be perfect when I get rid of my double chin/muffin top/bingo wings etc....

I have lost count how many times have I dressed in dowdy, practical clothes, thrown the night before and hastily retrieved from the home cardio equipment (just lying patiently in wait for me to stub my toes on) out of sheer no-brainer, no confidence, no time. It's so easy, sweat pants or jeans and a baggy top.

Not even daring to dream when shopping because I think "won't suit me/ don't deserve it/ I'll be too cold and look blue/ won't bother trying/ and just who do i think I am!!! (monetary and practical considerations taken into account of course).

Oh and there is nothing like jeans shopping, just in case I'm starting to feel a bit good about myself!!!! That lighting, those mirrors where you can see yourself from the back, that horrifying moment when you see what your bum really looks's very easy not to let these things sabotage our well intentioned gym visits. Thinking "whats the point"........

I have spent the summer in one part of my mind, feeling quite down, knowing that no matter how hard I work I still have the dreaded cottage cheese on the back of my thighs. Last November I decided enough was enough and even though I was exercising .....two training sessions, one Olympic lifting session and two 8mile runs a week. I was eating what I wanted, within reason, mindful of daily fruit and veg intake, but guilt free dessert if I ate out and usually a curry and a pizza at weekends. I was very carb-heavy, loved my risottos and brown rice and the obligatory peshwari naan. Always snacked on "healthy muesli based bars" as opposed to chocolate, lots of fruit and dried fruit......too much fruit with hindsight. Tony had been telling me for a year to watch my diet, particularly sugars and portion sizes but alas I am a little piglet for food....but then again I don't exactly mainline ice cream and dairy milk.

I had been reading a lot about the "Paleo" diet which basically adopts the eating habits of our stone age ancestors. Lots of grass fed meat, eggs, fish and seafood, nuts and seeds, fruit and vegetables and healthy raw fats such as avocado, flaxseed, olive and coconut. Not on the menu is anything that is a product of agricultural developments, such as grains, dairy, refined, heat treated fats and sugars, salt, legumes and processed foods. I was drawn to this way of eating because grains were the basis of my meals; lunches were a sandwich, quick easy dinner was microwave brown rice and a stir fry and Paleo seemed to be a good way of consciously increasing veg and reducing grains and sugar in my diet. Luckily I am a lover of coconut which is a Paleo staple, though as my dad helpfully pointed out, Yorkshire paleolthic man would not have had a steady supply of Waitrose organic coconut milk, as I arrived for Christmas with bulging carrier bags on the doorstep, well prepared for my denial in the season of glorious gluttony.

So, Christmas was a fog of food hell and denial, headaches and lethargy. My tummy may have leaned out but by god there was a price to pay. The season of goodwill to all men I spent as a moaning grumpy curmudgeon. I even pushed salad around the plate in Pizza Express which I swore I would never ever do and loathed myself for it. But I figured if I could do it then I could do it anytime.

My self loathing spiked off the scale when, through a need for variety with my protein sources (so necessary after heavy training for building muscle to burn fat) I decided to try eating meat again after being vegetarian half my life. I had to re-introduce fish a few years ago as dairy was clogging my vocal chords and thought maybe it could be an expansion on a theme. It proved to be difficult. I agreed to try a steak for my boyfriend's birthday. So off we went to a fancy steakhouse. Actually It was more of a temple dedicated to eating and savouring the finest Argentina had to offer; the presence of cow was everywhere ....even the furniture was obvious cow hide. There was just no getting away with the fact you were there to eat meat. And Tony sending txt messages of encouragement didn't help....."mooo" and "doesn't Florence taste lovely". We were welcomed by a waiter with a tray displaying the cuts of meat which helpfully brought to mind the 80s Tv adaptation of Douglas Adams' "Restaurant At The End Of The Universe" where the pig sits proudly on a platter and asks a totally freaked out Arthur Dent if he would like to eat a piece of his tender rump or perhaps his fillet, as he worked so hard on the succulence.... I ordered a sirloin, well done much to the horror of the waiter. I couldn't face the thought of cutting into something oozing with blood. It took me half an hour to eat half of it and miserably chewing my way through it re affirmed all the reasons why I stopped eating meat. I left the restaurant in floods of ungrateful tears. My poor boyfriend has the patience of a saint.

However I stuck with the no grains/ refined sugars until my birthday in May where I was treated to a 12 course taster menu which I attacked with the frenzied gusto of a starving roman at a feast.

It was an experiment. My body composition changed. I didn't lose weight but I lost a little body fat, my jeans felt better my stomach looked loads better. There was a little change to my cellulite but so slight after so much effort made me despondent, thinking "what's the flaming point".

My sessions with Tony were a godsend as I completely lost the will to exercise. His sessions reminded me how much I loved the buzz from pushing myself to get through his session and that alone felt like an achievement which was important to me, but I was so demotivated and depressed I didn't have the energy to even get myself out of the door to run let alone plan a gym session. I needed him to think for me, I just turned up and trained. Looking back I think it was my body deciding it needed a bit of a break after the intense focus and I have been researching other ways of training and eating and re-setting my goals to something achievable.

Cellulite is something that affects 90% of women to varying degrees. There are ways to make it look better temporarily but no solution, and what works for one person will not work for another. It's a case of trying things and, unfortunately, how much money you have to dedicate to it, as some of the more invasive treatments can be costly. What I do know is that having muscle under that cellulite as opposed to fat will make it look and feel a whole lot better.

There are lessons I have learned from doing no grains too, the biggest being eat more vegetables!!!!!

Make vegetables the main event of our meal. Your daily fruit: veg ratio should be 3:2. Mine was more like 4:1. The other was having meals and snacks pre- prepared. Having to be out of bed 20 mins earlier to mess about with avocado at 6am is a pain, but smugness in the face of temptation later in the day makes it worthwhile....however the wafts of raw broccoli from the deeper recesses of my handbag wasn't so appetising. Not doing that again.

The other things I learned were not to cry in restaurants..........and most importantly; start living for right now!!!

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