Once upon a time, I decided I was going to be a vegetarian. Candice had told me she was doing it so I thought hey, why not? It was New Year’s Eve when I decided I was going to give it a try. I went to my friend’s annual family party, we started to eat dinner and whilst mid-chew on a chicken wing my friend says to me, “Aren’t you a vegetarian now?!” Cue me nearly in tears, failing on day one of vegetarianism. This somewhat set the tone for the 5 or so years I was a vegetarian. After that night I decided I would eat chicken but no fish or red meat. Then after learning a little more, I decided I wasn’t going to eat any of it, besides dairy and eggs. However, on and off for the following years I’d go through phases of eating turkey, chicken and some fish then deciding I wasn’t going to anymore. I always abstained from red meat and most definitely got sick of the question, “don’t you miss bacon?!” The answer was always no, I don’t miss bacon because it’s not that great. How foolish I was.
As I’ve mentioned in previous posts , I started CrossFit in August 2012 after graduating college. I was always defensive about being a vegetarian and that I could get all my nutrients from plants and other foods, I didn’t need meat. It only took a few months into CrossFit before I realized how much I was missing by not eating meat. Since the paleo lifestyle has always been closely woven into the CrossFit community, it was a no brainer that I would try that next.
Photo Credit: Balanced Bites
The thing that kept me vegetarian so long was the knowledge of how most animals are treated before being killed for us to eat. It wasn’t until I found paleo that I realized there were more acceptable conditions that animals lived in before being killed and sent to your nearest grocery store. It was when I joined the paleo movement that I learned what grass-fed, free-range, pasture raised and all other lingo meant. Keep in mind that I had just graduated college so my access to these items was still fairly limited based on financials but becoming more educated helped me with the idea of eating meat again and not feeling guilty. While I had been pondering this decision, Candice shared with me that she was starting to eat meat again too. Phew! My fellow vegetarian decided to eat meat again too, you can’t imagine my relief!. As silly as it may sound, I was worried Candice would be disappointed in my decision. One of my biggest fears about switching to a more carnivorous diet was having to answer everyone’s questions and deal with anyone saying “I told you so”. What I’ve learned over the years is that you don’t have to answer to anyone’s questions if you don’t want to. You made your decision and that’s that, you don’t always have to explain yourself nor do you need anyone’s approval.
Now as I mentioned above, I had been intermittently eating poultry throughout the years so being able to eat this again wasn’t that big of a deal to me. However, red meat was a different story. I had heard horror stories about former vegetarians eating red meat again and having really bad consequences. Needless to say, I was very nervous. While I was able to jump right back into eating poultry again, I took red meat a little slower. I started with pork chops, moved on to ground beef and then slowly moved my way onto steak. Lucky for me, none of these ever caused me any problems. This was just more incentive that I should be eating these things and that my body responded well to it.
Now a days I could eat steak everyday, it’s seriously my fav
While this had an impact on me mentally, the biggest difference I noticed was physically. I had always been fairly strong but never felt like I really looked it. Now obviously I can’t attribute all my changes to eating meat again but I do believe it played a big role. Between that and switching to a more paleo life style, I felt like I was getting better every day. I was feeling stronger and was finally starting to piece together what nutrition really meant to me. Over the last three years this puzzle continues to evolve. As mentioned in a previous post, “diet” is something I continue to play and experiment with. I’m still figuring out what exactly works for me and trying to make it fun along the way. The main “rules” still apply though as I try new things. Eat lean meats, eat real fruits and veggies and eat healthy fats.
Top photo: 9 months into starting CrossFit
I know, I know this is getting long winded. I wanted to share this story because I know it’s a very common one. It seems like many of the paleo stories I hear start with, “Well I was following this diet, then I was a vegetarian then I did this diet and then I found paleo!” or something along those lines. If I were to give you three main take aways from my experience, it would go as follows.
1) Do what makes your body feel good. Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing.
2)Take things slow and be patient. I’m referring to sticking with your new lifestyle for more than 1 week! And also re-introducing new foods. Don’t decide you’re going to eat meat again then go get a full slab of ribs.
3) Get in tune with your body! This relates to number 1, really pay attention to how you feel!
That’s it folks! If you have any questions feel free to leave a comment below, contact us through email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or find us Instagram at @wholehealthhacks! We would love to hear if you’ve had similar experiences or how you found paleo! Also, stay tuned for Part Two of this blog post as Candice will be telling her tale of transitioning from vegetarianism!