Today is my 48th birthday and I’m in the best shape of my life.
It is shocking to me I am this age.
Because, with the big five-o just two short years away, I feel like a young girl skipping through life.
That I could find the answer to the physical problems that have plagued me since I was a child, in my diet and without medication to boot, is still awe-inspiring to me.
But it goes beyond that. It goes right through to my attitude to life and my appreciation of many things.
So as I shun birthday cake in favor of bacon and do a few windmills with my kettlebells despite my broken foot, I’ve come up with a personal list of benefits the paleo lifestyle has given me.
All of this has been realized over the 17 months I’ve been paleo, and, particularly, the days I went timeless.
Paleo Benefit #1. More strength than my mid-twenties.
I’ve always had a hard time gaining muscle. I had hypotonia (low muscle tone) as a child, was clumsy and could never climb a rope at gym time. My upper body was always two sizes smaller than the bottom. Now though, I have muscle definition in my legs, I have biceps. I can see a four-pack and the beginnings of a six. Chin-ups are still a ways away but the pull-up bar in my kitchen will get me there. And, as Teresa Tapp recommends, I can hold a quarter between my buns. Yes, I have tried.
Paleo Benefit #2. The dress size of my mid-twenties.
A US size 6. 7 years ago, after a second trimester loss, depressed and overweight, I bought a size 6 dress in a thrift store. I had no plans to spend too long at this size so I wasn’t going to shell out money for something new. I could barely do the buttons up, they were straining. And I certainly couldn’t wear any underwear. 17 months ago, it was still too tight but now that dress is just right. (And, now I realize, too short for me, too.) But even if I venture no further than my bathroom in it, I still try it on now and again. It makes me smile.
Paleo Benefit #3. More energy than I’ve ever had as an adult.
I sometimes don’t know what to do with it all. I wake at 5ish. Get up around 5:30am. I keep going all day. This is astounding to me as someone who would plan her day around her naps that often lasted two or three hours. I get so much done – run a business, three blogs, two children, a home. Awesome.
Paleo Benefit #4. No pain for the first time since puberty.
Aches, stabbing pains, bruises, pain from surgeries, scar tissue, endometriosis. Pain was a normal part of my life until recently. It has all gone. One dietary misstep and it reappears but knowing what I know and what I need to do is empowering. I will never go back, I’ll keep pressing forward instead.
(I would be delighted to I stop here but there’s more…)
Paleo Benefit #5. A deeper appreciation for my ancestors.
And…I hate saying this because it’s a bit woo-woo, but it’s true…a spiritual connectedness to my ancestors and how they lived. And a gratefulness too for everything they went through that put me here. Life was so, so tough until recently. That somehow my ancestors lived long enough to pass on their genes is amazing. And to think that it would have taken just one of them not to make it to that point, and I wouldn’t be here, is testimony to me of their toughness.
Paleo Benefit #6. A greater sense of my abilities and possibilities and a confidence I can see them through.
If my ancestors were that tough, I am too. Underneath all that dietary fog and disregulation is a women with tremendous power. With the knowledge I have, I can launch second part of my life like a rocket. Who knows where this could take me but I’m looking forward to the ride.
Paleo Benefit #7. I know what I need to improve – relax, play.
This workaholic has a hard time chillin’. I need to make time to invest in play. Before paleo, I thought play was a waste and I didn’t have time for it, especially as sleeping was taking all my free minutes! Now I have the time, energy and understanding. And I know it will create balance and be good for my physical and emotional health.
Paleo Benefit #8. An increased understanding and interest in our complex and beautiful planet.
I do my green part. I recycle, buy sustainable. I’ve traveled and experienced some amazing natural phenomena. But reaching back, appreciating how long it’s been here, getting more in touch with nature takes appreciation of our planet earth and it’s systems to a whole new level. It may be a tiny contribution and it may not be enough but like the elk in I-Caveman, I appreciate how the earth sustains and guides us. And I just need to listen.
Paleo Benefit #9. A stronger recognition of the basics of life.
Our modern day conveniences – light, heat, shelter, food, transportation, safety, security. Phew, when I went without clocks, cars, modern day conveniences, company and computers back in January, this lesson hit home. What a struggle life was even a hundred years ago. And I wasn’t even being really tough about it.
Paleo Benefit #10. Medicine.
That a former life-threatening issue is now a mere trifle, like my broken foot, is breathtaking when you put in perspective. I am a reluctant patient. I won’t even take painkillers unless I’m desperate. I might avail myself of modern medicine less than I did a few years ago, but I appreciate it more. An injury like mine would have been life-threatening when mobility was essential to survival and infection difficult to prevent and resolve. My tribe don’t have to abandon me to my fate because to support me would put them in danger. Instead I get care and comfort and rest. That’s cool in my book.
Paleo Benefit #11. The importance of connectedness to our survival, emotional well-being and prosperity.
As an introvert, I have long been independent and relaxed with solitude. Now I see more clearly the importance of these bonds. And value them more as a result. Except in exceptional circumstances, we no longer need the physical presence of other people for survival but we do need them for our emotional health and to thrive. It’s programmed in our genes to bond and depend upon others because being part of the group gave us the best chance of survival. Understanding that helps me see how important other people are. And not to give in to my anti-social ways.
Paleo Benefit #12. The value of technology.
The access technology gives us to new worlds, new people, new adventures, a life experience unmatched in history, makes our lives exciting. It adds color, takes away drudge and the hard toil of merely existing. Taking a 5 mile trip to Target is a big adventure if you’ve previously been limited to countryside within a day’s walk of your home. While too much of it pushes us out of balance with nature, smart use of technology contributes much to our life experience.
Paleo Benefit #13. An increased perception of the strength of balance in all things.
Tides, seasons, people’s behavior, hormones – one change results in another compensating change. This awareness has given me a different sense of my history. Weird and strange things that have happened in my life were not weird or strange. They were perfectly straightforward, reasonable and even awesome because they were the result of something trying hard, sometimes incredibly hard, to maintain equilibrium.
The power this knowledge has given me is like being given the key to the secret of life. It drives me forward to share what I know, with confidence and energy. Everyone should feel what I feel and do what I do. What a different world that would be.
I hope you feel like this on your next birthday.
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