This question came about because of my desire not to derail another conversation going on here on PH. My question relates to those of us who have been doing this for a little while and who have had a measure of health improvement and/or physical improvement on the plan, but who are not now, nor may ever BE, perfect physical specimens. Is the general impression that we should not speak up about paleo (or whatever it is that you call your version of healthy ancestral eating), lest we give people the wrong idea and give this movement a figurative black eye, or is our success enough to overcome some of the stigma of, frankly, still being FAT?
Thanks for the responses.
The conversations, before/afters, etc definitely need to include more "normal" people. Otherwise the expectations that are set up are inevitably going to disappoint some people. Not everyone is going to get six pack abs and start killing their own food with Paleolithic hunting tools. A year of clean living, no matter how clean is not going to reverse 30-40yrs of sedentary junk. Hopefully a few years will but for many of us that remains to be seen.
I think the unstated premise in the question (at least as I've interpreted it - could be I'm just cranky from dead lifts and not enough starch in my diet) is that there is a lot of emphasis on the lean and ripped in the community, to the point where it seems to be a bit cliquish at times to those who are not lean and ripped. You can see this in some of the commentary about the AHS this year. From some descriptions of the event one gets the impression that lingering spare tires or sallow complexions would get you stopped at the door (or at least possibly get you noted derisively in a blog later). And the variety of reasons for starting to eat/live this way often lead to assumptions about the reasons others should be doing it and just plain lack of empathy for those who may be starting from a different place (thus comments that those still not being of ideal composition after a period of effort maybe not doing it right or not being "pure" enough).
Personally, I still got that spare tire but it's 6in smaller in circumference than it was. I still have plenty to go in terms of weightloss (down 35, should lose another 20). People do notice it, but the effect that's made the most impression on me is the various improvements in how I feel (no IBS, more energy, in general nowhere near as cranky as I used to be). That's the part I end up talking about to others. It's not the ripped abs (of course maybe if I had them it would be, whose to say), but not having to go sit on the toilet 10 times a day that I want to share. Or just having the energy to participate in life, chase a dog, run up stairs, etc...
In the end, I say it's the health aspects that are most important to share. If you are seeing a big difference in life because of eating/living a more "paleo" lifestyle than please share it even if you do have weight to lose. I don't think you have to be a perfect specimen to represent and I think the community needs more imperfect specimens... or at least in progress ones!
My father isn't svelte on paleo, but he looks SO MUCH BETTER. Ditto for my mother. I don't think they are going to regain the slimness they had in their twenties, but everyone notices they look better and people have adopted paleo because of them.
But then again, they aren't going around marketing paleo as a weight-loss diet fad. On my own site I've never promised people they will become lean on paleo. There is no study showing that this diet has that ability. But people have the potential to return to a more comfortable weight and feel much better. I just read an advance copy of "Why Women Need Fat" and I was amazed that the book didn't promise women that their dietary regimen would make them thin. The real struggles diet book authors themselves encounter are a testament to how hard it is to get lean, particularly when you have been overweight for a long time, are a woman, or are older.
If you want to influence friends, family, co-workers and others who know and love you the best way to start is to look/feel better than you have for years.
If you want to be a guru, I assert you don't have to have an ideal body profile you just need to give advice that works.
Coach K is a lion of college basketball yet he's a little short guy. Coach Bellichek is a lion of the NFL and he looks more like an accountant than anything else. If I were a player, I'd want those coaches over one who looked the part but didn't have a winning record.
Just win, baby!
IMHO Paleo has more to do with overall gut health and body composition is just value added.
Apart from healing my gut and my overall GI challenges, I can honestly say that my body composition accurately reflects my food composition. 250 g of protein daily, 70 grams of carbs on training days (strictly PWO), 20 grams of carbs on off days, and the rest in fat in the forms of raw almond butter, grass fed butter, and avocado.
Well, here is a paleolithic female body ....
So - what do we conclude from this??!!
Some people (like me) are never going to be perfect physical specimens! And whatever I do, I am not going to stop being middle-aged. I will never be as appealing a role model as a young, hard-bodied person!
I think actually it would be a bit odd if people were encouraged not to speak about paleo just because they were a bit fat.
Who would decide who was fit to be a spokesperson/role model? What are the criteria for judging their fitness?
At the end of the day, the rational criterion would be their good health (or a big improvement on previous ill health).
It kind of depends on whether you see Paleo being a weight loss diet or a diet for health. Weight loss is much more than just eating healthy and maintaining weight.
If the idea is that paleo is weight loss for the masses, then I would expect to see a lot of lean people speaking for it. Actually getting to your goal weight is often the most significant achievement.
I do think paleo helps with a lot of basics towards losing weight, but actually losing weight can be very difficult and is a lot different than just preventing obesity. I am skeptical for most people that just eating paleo will get people to their goal weight.
I've always told women I've known who ask me for tips to help them lose weight that weight doesn't matter, it's about how you feel. Some people will be thinner, others will be heavier, and body fat percentage is more important than weight, but even that varies. Any diet that's specifically focused on helping you lose weight is bound to fail because it's working on the wrong problem. The Paleo diet will help you reach your optimal weight, whatever that may be, because the reason most people these days are either underweight or overweight is due to not eating the way nature intended them to. You know yourself better than anyone else, and you know when you feel good and have lots of energy, so experiment with your diet til you find one that gives you the most energy and health. Then you won't need to count calories anymore.
noo. I've always been skinny, and Paleo has made me skinnier, but more musclely looking. To have a nice body, I need to be able to put on fat, which is something I havent had since I was 1 year old.
I think the conception that any non-mainstream item has to put it's "best foot forward" to the world by displaying it's brightest peacocks is detrimental to that item. People who look perfect are not relateable, and can come off as corny testimonies like "look! Eat steak and lose 10 lbs! Are my teeth white enough yet?". It isn't very relateable, and really takes the genuine message out of the picture. That's one of my major problems with the vegan movement- there are conferences where they do not supply L or XL shirts, just in case people didn't get the message enough.
Being an inspiration is not about embodying perfection- it's about experiencing feeling good, and sharing it upon prompting without feeling judged. My mom is my role model, and she is never going to have the body she had when she was 20, and that's fine, because she is still a strong, happy woman. She will never look like she didn't have three pregnancies and a few surgeries that caused major scarring, nor does she want to- she's not ashamed of her kids or being sick in the past, so why should she be ashamed that her body reflects that? She is just as "qualified" to give advice and discuss her lifestyle as anyone else is.
In my internship I've had morbidly obese to moderately overweight patients who receive unsolicited advice in random places from complete strangers who tell them they "have the answer to their problem". People who glare at the one chocolate bar in a grocery cart full of food, or tell them that if they just moved more they wouldn't be so darn imposing. I think this is totally invasive and heartbreaking, because nobody knows what is going on in their life!! Are they recovering from surgery? Did they just have a baby? Are they at a really stressful point of their life? Are losing weight gradually, which is the healthiest most sustainable way to lose it? Are they on anti-psychotic medications? Are they treating a thyroid problem? The answers to these questions don't matter anyways, because it is not our place to judge people we don't know, and people shouldn't have to justify their appearance for anyone. I say, we should all be taken on the value of our advice and our personalities, not our appearances in a perfect world. Hopefully we can move away from our projected prejudices in our own way, and appreciate healthy and advice in every form that it comes.
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