So how did your 30 days of strict paleo go? Do you look, feel and perform better? Are you now thinking “Okay, what’s next?” or “How can I make this a sustainable lifestyle?” Well then you’re in luck.
Didn’t try 30 days of strict paleo? Stop reading and read this post instead, and come back here in 30 days, ok? Ok.
A Sustainable Lifestyle
Being on a strict diet is nice because it dictates what you can and can’t eat, it takes confusion and choice out of the equation so that it can achieve a specific goal. But once it’s over and that goal has been met, the rules are not applicable anymore and that’s when people get into trouble. They go back to their old habits and undo all of their progress.
Nobody wants to undo all their hard work, which is why Paleo is not a diet. While we suggest going strictly paleo for at least 30 days to begin with, it is simply a mechanism to jump start the healing progress, promote awareness and to get you into the habit of eating paleo. Once those 30 days are over you’re not exactly free to go right back to your old habits. Oh no, this is where the fun begins.
This is about building new habits that will last for a lifetime. Habits that will ensure a healthy diet, commitment to exercise, keeping stress down and staying sane and happy.
In the How To Implement The Paleo Lifestyle post, I mentioned that for your first 30 days to not worry about exercise – unless you already had a routine you were happy with. Instead for your first 30 days just worry about taking a nice relaxing walk every day. However now that you’ve completed your first 30 days it’s time to take exercise more seriously.
Finding a good workout plan is essential for health and happiness. Exercise not only relieves stress but will dramatically increase your longevity and quality of life. Think about your goals and find the best workout to compliment them. There are plans to become stronger, improve conditioning, and plans for using what’s available such as lifting weights, kettlebells and bodyweight circuits. We’ve even written on why women should lift weights and why you should practice parkour.
The point is to find a routine that is sustainable, enjoyable and helps you reach your goals – be it for general health, aesthetics or for sport.
The 80/20 Principle
We demanded 100% perfection for those 30 days, but only for the first 30. Now that you’ve learned how to eat paleo and what it’s like, you’re free to take the principles you’ve learned out of the classroom and into the real world. No one is perfect all of the time, and you’re not expected to be.
Now is the time you can work on applying the principles to your lifestyle long term. Remember this diet is for a healthy life and having something bad for you once in a while isn’t going to be the end of the world. For some people being paleo 6 days out of the week is just fine. For others with greater food sensitivities it means taking a more strict approach having only one meal every month or so that is non-compliant. The key is experimentation and finding a balance that works for you.
For me personally I have to be pretty strict with it. Eating a few slices of pizza will give me not only a face full of acne but it makes me bloated and lethargic for a couple of days. I’ve learned I have to keep grains to an absolute minimum – even rice does this to me. Other things like aged cheeses I can be a little more relaxed on – a bit here and there doesn’t give me any negative effects and I’m not addicted to it like I used to be (yes, I had a cheese problem.) Additionally I enjoy a good glass of wine, or even soju and a piece or two of chocolate once in a while.
Now this is not to say that you should start planning cheat days and things. No. The goal is to still aim for 100% compliance, but to not stress over every time you fall short. In other words don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.
Habits Are Hard To Break
Eventually you might fall back into your old habits. It’s okay, redo it.
It’s entirely possible that you may even slip back into your old habits – they have a way of sneaking back in and taking over. Don’t let this deter you or stress you out. It’s okay, it’s a part of the process. Clean up your diet – do another 30 day challenge if you feel the need to – and keep working on eating better.
As you continue your journey toward better health you’ll notice your habits and tastes will change. Cravings will go away and even when you do cheat you might even regret it – not because you feel bad for eating bad, but because you no longer enjoy it. It won’t happen over night and it won’t happen if you don’t keep working at it. Thankfully the longer you stick with it, the easier it will become.
Once your body has adjusted and is healed from addictions to sugar and other toxins the desires for bad foods just disappear. In it’s stead the joy of being energetic, enjoying good food, getting good sleep and keeping your stress levels down will take over. Eventually it will just become natural to you.
“Cheats” will become less frequent and more benign when they do happen. Getting back on track should you de-rail will be easy and quick.
Having A Balanced, Healthy Life Is The Reward
Eventually the new habits take hold and become your default and reversing just wont feel so rewarding anymore. You’ll be comfortable, healthy and happy. It won’t feel like a regimented lifestyle, but instead natural and balanced. You’ll be focused on the big picture, and not sweat the small stuff.
What did you think of your 30 days being Paleo? What are the changes you’ve seen in your health, lifestyle and performance? Share your thoughts, comments and advice in the comments.
Photo Credit: OakleyOriginals