Something I don't get in the paleo community is the fact that everyone wants to be extremely lean. I personally have been very lean my whole life, abs showing and all, but I have almost always felt miserable. The little time I have packed on some pounds (rarely) I felt much happier and energetic; My sports performance improved and my libido was high. I think there has also been studies that have shown that a bit heavier people are healthier than very lean people, I just can't bother to search for them right now.
So what say you paleohackers? Do you want to be extremely lean? Or have you been there and felt miserable? Better?
I was extremely lean once; this time last year I was anorexic, depressed, malnourished, had zero sex drive and my hair was falling out. Then I adopted Paleo and gained weight. I have boobs and an ass now. My arm is not the width of a celery stick and I have nicely shaped legs that my girlfriends are envious of.
I no longer strive to be "extremely lean" because that will just result in a downward spiral towards a relapse in having an eating disorder and excessive exercising and being miserable. It took me a very long time to accept my new body and I now love my curves.
I know a majority of people on Paleo want to lose weight and be as lean as possible in order to look good. But for me, the reverse is true: I gained weight and I think I look better now. I adopted Paleo because when I made the decision to be healthy, I wanted to do it right.
I strove to be extremely lean on paleo, even got there for a minute, but I realized that enough was enough, women are supposed to have a little but of fat, it is necessary for fertility, and there really is no better indicator of female health than fertility. I finally gave up being athletically lean for generally healthy. I was emotionally happy with my looks but was not really enjoying my life, I was stressing out over every little carb that passed my lips. I am much happier with a couple extra pounds back on my hips (the look more feminine and curvy that way too).
I would also like to add that as an athletic 5'7 girl, being 144 is not by any means overweight, so it is not an excuse to eat nothing but paleo-fied desserts, but still there are better things in life than just being lean.
I don't want to be extremely lean. When I have been I've usually also been depressed. Right now I am slightly underweight, probably, but unlike many others here it seems, I have never had a serious weight problem. I have a small frame (except for my ribs which stick out further than other, ahem, parts) and I don't look that great with more weight on. I'm 5'3" and between 112 to 115 lbs usually.
Biggest problem for me is getting in enough protein to build muscle. I calculated, though, that in the last 3.5 years I've lost about 12lbs of fat and added over 5lbs of muscle. I'm much stronger than I was so I'm pretty happy.
BTW, I thought that slightly underweight people tend to have a greater longevity over heavier people.
I would like to be as lean as I can healthily be for my gender/height/genetics, but if that's a size 12 woman with an amazonian-like figure then that's ok with me :) I wouldn't want to be leaner than what's healthy!
I cannot attain very lean. I have never in my life been lean. Not as far back into childhood as I can go. If there's a bell-curve for normal weight, I'm at the 99th percentile when I'm at my leanest. I would love to be leaner but as I try new things to get there, I'm not filled with much hope I will actually ever get there. I think there is a limit for some people and I'm quite in awe of those who can just decide they're going to reach super-human leanness and then do it.
I'd have to say that yes, I do strive to be lean. I like the way I feel - agile and lighter on my feet. I like the way my clothes fit. That said, I have never been overweight in my life. I have a naturally "ectomorphic" build (tall and thin). I took it a little too far as a teenager to the point where I had no energy, lost my period, etc etc etc. I have no interest in going back there again, but after 25 years of slow steady recovery I think I know where my ideal weight is, and it's probably on the lean side, BMI-wise. So be it. I don't really have to go to herculean efforts to reach it (I don't do low carb, and I eat dairy) and I never stray more than 10 pounds over or I freak out and start visiting sites like Paleohacks. It's just the weight where I feel the most like "me."
I would love to be lean, but I'm realizing more and more that it doesn't align with my more important goals. I've never been extremely overweight, but I've always had a little extra abdominal fat. It's starting to go away now, from a combination of paleo and increased training, but I haven't yet dipped into the full 6- or 8-pack region.
When I get close to that level, I have very little energy, and usually haven't eaten enough in the past few days. I look okay (still not perfect), but I don't want to do anything. As a competitive rower, I'd rather have the energy to train and perform at a high level than be an ab-having slug. A new PR feels better than a 6-pack any day.
Many in the paleo community arrived there because of being overweight and that's why you might perceive that pattern. I have struggled with weight ever since puberty and find that the leaner I am, the better I feel.