Let me start by saying I’m not a nutrition or fitness expert. I’ve struggled with my weight over the years and am constantly working to love and accept my body in its current state. But I can share with you my personal experience that has brought me to where I am today…a state of simply healthy living.
A Paleo-ish Experiment
I come from a not-so-healthy relationship with food in my past. I’ve often leaned on food to cope with my emotions and have never been very sensitive to my body’s signals when it came to portions. I’ve done my share of calorie-counting and boring diets over the years. And to be honest, the older I get the less I want to place these sorts of restrictions on myself. Life is too short, you know?
But that doesn’t mean I want to go crazy and eat everything in sight. I just want to be able to eat what I want and to feel good at the same time. I want to feed my body what it needs to do the jobs it was biologically made for. With that said, my sweet tooth is ever-present and I’ve always had a soft spot for carbs. So, why in the world am I venturing into the Paleo world?
It all started with an experiment really…I was playing around with our meal plan in an attempt to reduce my carb intake and was doing a modified version of carb cycling, knowing I’d never be able to give them up completely. It was in this process that I started to make the connection with some gut issues I was having due to carbs and/or gluten in my diet. With this revelation, I’ve further limited the carbs and gluten in our meal plans and I’ve been feeling better and better. With that said, I still won’t say that we are eating a true Paleo diet. As I said before, I don’t want to be that restrictive anymore.
I’m simply choosing to base our meal plans on all natural, whole foods and limiting the types of food that don’t make me feel so great. Limiting, not restricting. Sometimes I can have carbs in the morning and, as long as I don’t have bread or pasta after lunch, I feel just fine. Other times, a girl just wants a nice Italian pasta dish on a date night with her hubby.
I have tried several Paleo recipes, many of which are delish and don’t make me feel yucky afterwards. I’ve also bombed a few Paleo desserts and to be honest, I just won’t be making them again. Sometimes a fudgy brownie just needs to be a fudgy brownie. All in moderation, I say. So, here I am, just simply healthy living the paleo-ish way.
Fitness to Fight Anxiety
As I’ve mentioned in other posts on Country Wife Chronicles, I used to be in a high-stress career and I simply just didn’t manage that stress well. I put a happy face on, did my job well, and left at the end of the day exhausted and craving comfort foods that would take the pressure off for a while.
I think, looking back, my struggle with anxiety built up over time and if I’m being honest, I can probably trace some symptoms of not being able to cope back to high school. But it wasn’t until my first career out of college that I felt truly out of control, overwhelmed with emotion, and stuck in an inescapable unhappiness due to stress and anxiety.
Somewhere along the way I came across a book by Linda Dillow entitled “Calm My Anxious Heart.” This book, which is founded in faith, led me to some serious soul searching and reinforced the importance of relying on God in times of worry.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
Proverbs 3:5-6 (NKJV)
Now, I have never been medicated for anxiety, but I would say that I probably should have sought professional help during those times of worry and stress. I suffered panic attacks and depression, and at times felt completely debilitated by the anxiety. My saving grace was my pure reliance on God and my husband helping me get through the day to day and eventually encouraging me to leave the stress-inducing career I was in.
Today, I’m in a much healthier state of mind and can happily say I haven’t suffered many symptoms of anxiety for quite some time. That being said, I am always on guard, feeling susceptible to anxiety attacks when stress happens, and let’s face it, stress will always happen. Even with changing the majority of my stress-inducing circumstances, stress will always find its way into my life. So, it’s up to me to find ways to manage it in a healthy way. For me, that is through faith and fitness.
I have always been an athletic person, participating in sports and running road races at various times in my life. Even when I’ve been uncomfortably overweight and out of shape, I’ve enjoyed getting outside and taking a walk. These days I make an effort to get in a solid workout five days a week. And though the benefits of working out can certainly include weight loss, physical fitness, and a post-workout endorphin rush; I maintain my workout schedule mainly to cope with any stress I’m feeling. I use my time working out to talk to God, take my mind off things, and allow myself an outlet for any pent-up frustration. I can honestly say that working out, for me, at this point in my life, is less about losing weight and more about getting my anti-anxiety fix for the day…and just simply healthy living.
The Country Wife Recommends…
If you want to experiment with the Paleo lifestyle or are just looking for new recipes to help you incorporate more natural-state foods into your diet, check out the book “Practical Paleo” by Diane Sanfilippo. It is what I’m currently using to venture into the realm of Paleo and I recommend it highly for it’s front half—a full intro into the Paleo way of eating and the biology behind it.
If you struggle with anxiety, I honestly can’t recommend “Calm My Anxious Heart” by Linda Dillow enough. There is a twelve-week Bible study included that really takes you further into self-discovery and leaning on the Lord to help you cope.
I hope that you might enjoy following along with me as I continue to strive towards simply healthy living. Like many things in life, I believe we can tend to over-complicate our desire to live healthy lives. Let’s keep it basic, making healthy choices to feel better both nutritionally and physically while learning to savor the simple life.
Be Still & Know…