Mary Turner is an All Strength Training client and reformed vegetarian. We asked her to share some of her experience in discovering the paleo diet and what it has done for her.
“If it’s important to you, you will find a way. If it’s not, you’ll find an excuse”
We have all seen this quote on the walls at AST. I think it applies to our diet as much if not more than our training. Within this last year I have changed my diet significantly. As a vegetarian of 20 plus years, it was not easy. But the longer I researched the Paleo diet, the more important it became to change my diet. So, I found a way.
I realized that as humans we are animals and we have a natural diet. Just as cows are supposed to eat grass, homo sapiens are suppose to eat meat, vegetables, fruit, nuts, and seeds. For years, eating the true human diet was not important to me, so I found excuses. Below are my three favorite, which I still hear from vegetarians as well as meat eaters.
1. Eating something that walks around is disgusting!
Yes, it is. But animals eat animals.
2. Organic Wheat, Dairy, etc is natural so it must be good for you.
Trees are natural too. Are you going to eat some bark for dinner?
3. Vegetarianism is good for the environment.
No, actually, it’s not. In fact, it takes more resources to grow all that wheat to feed you than it does to grow a cow. If you really want to know more about this read The Vegetarian Myth.
As humans our bodies are designed to process protein from meat, carbs from veggies and fruit, and fat from animals and nuts, for the other systems in our bodies to utilize. I had been substituting a large part of my diet with grains, dairy, legumes, soy, etc all things that my body is not designed to digest. For years I struggled with depression from lack of fatty acids only found in meat. Now, getting out of bed isn’t the hardest thing I do every day. I had digestive issues which disappeared immediately after I started eating meat. Waking up three times a night was the norm. This was due to my blood sugar dropping due to the lack of protein in my diet. I could go on and on about all the changes I have experienced. If you want to read the full story go to http://marcat-recoveringvegetarian.blogspot.com/ (Well, if I am going to plug books I’ve read, I might as well mention my blog)
Now, you may think, ya ya ya, you were a vegetarian and I’m not so I am getting the protein I need. That may be but if you are still eating wheat, dairy, corn, rice, soy, legumes, etc. you are damaging your body similarly as to how we damage a cow when we feed it corn. Basically, every time you eat wheat, yes whole wheat too, you damage your intestinal lining in addition to spiking your insulin levels. But, I am sure Zach has already told you that! If you want to learn more about what these “foods” do to you I highly suggest reading The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf.
We tend to look at diets as something we are on instead of something we have. Now, when someone makes a comment about my “strange” diet, I just reply “I’m not on a diet, I have a diet, the human diet” These same people comment on how great I look and ask for my advice on “dieting” quite often. Then, they go to Chipotle and come back with a burrito (not in the bowl, in the tortilla) and you can bet there have rice, cheese, and sour cream in there too. I get very frustrated and often think about how the trainers must have felt trying to help me in my vegetarian days. Which takes me back to the beginning of my thoughts here, is being a healthy and lean human important to you?