Last night I had dinner with a close friend of mine who I hadn’t seen in a while. I felt a bit anxious about meeting up because the previous weekend I had broken a cardinal rule of friendship: I cancelled on a wonderful dinner he had thoughtfully prepared — at the 11th hour. People, DO NOT DO THIS. It is extremely bad behaviour. It is only permissible when you have a terribly good excuse. E.g., you’ve fallen in the bath and your skull’s caved in and you are now on your way to the E.R.
Luckily, my friend is a gentleman in the extreme and didn’t berate me as we sat down to have dinner at the Soho Diner.
Alongside his many excellent qualities, this friend is also an extremely fit and painfully disciplined individual. While I’m pleased that he looks great (and he really does), I occasionally find his fastidious eating habits and regular gym-going very upsetting. Namely because it makes me, a sofa-sitting, carb-gobbling, sugar-snorting, non-gymming bon-vivant, look really bad.
His latest fitness and health endeavour is the Paleo diet.
I’d like to pause here for a moment here and scold him via the Internet for even thinking that he needs to shed any weight at all. However, it seems like he’s on a single-minded quest for the elusive six-pack. Nothing I say or do (such as waving all-butter shortbread biscuits under his nose in a seductive fashion) will sway his resolve.
I’m not sure exactly why I indulge in this sort of perverse Internet behaviour, but I think it’s probably the same reason that people like to watch The Biggest Loser.
I like to think part of the reason for this bizarre fixation is that by looking at these progress pics, I’m sharing in the joy that something like weight loss can bring to someone who was previously unhappy. Another good reason I could throw out there is that seeing someone’s dramatic transformation serves to motivate my own fitness goals.
But let’s face it. When my sister and I used to watch The Biggest Loser (and we used to watch the shit out of that show), we’d always do it while we feasted on a hearty dinner, often getting up for seconds, sometimes thirds, during commercial breaks. We would make impassioned vows about heading to the gym the next day. Watching that show was always incredibly emotional for us. My sister, a particularly empathetic young woman, would tear up during every episode. Usually at the juncture when tough-cookie host/personal trainer Jillian Michaels would proceed to “crack” one of the participants during an intense workout, leading them to bawl their eyes out as they shared with her, and us, the deep-seated psychological traumas that had caused their weight gain to spiral out of control.
These emphatic workout vows weren’t always fulfilled. But they were made!
So last night, after tucking into a delicious and massive paleo-esque dinner with my friend,b I went home and decided to do a bit of research into this so-called diet. We had eaten so heartily I was skeptical that what we’d just had was considered a “diet meal.”
As the name suggests, the Paleo Diet is all about reverting back to what our hunter-gatherer ancestors during the Paleolithic era ate. This means any foods that came along with the advent of the Agricultural Revolution (that’s about 10,000 years ago kids) are out: no grains, no dairy, no legumes, no refined sugars, and no processed foods whatsoever. Instead you’re to stock your fridge and pantry with free-range and grass-fed meat, poultry, and game; fish and seafood; fresh fruits, vegetables, and tubers like sweet potatoes and yams; nuts, seeds and healthy oils.
There’s very little in the way of portion control involved, because your intake will mostly involve mostly nutrient-dense, low-calorie foods; (some) fats are good; and it’s open season on protein which, as we all know, helps to keep you fuller for longer.
I can see how this sounds appealing to the more body conscious male, because men, particularly men who exercise vigorously, dislike restricting themselves with fussy portion-control measures like weighing and measuring everything they eat and counting calories obsessively.c
Fitness fascist friendd reports that his energy levels are at an all-time high, his bowel movements are exceedingly regular, and the (largely non-extant) fat is melting right off his frame.
If you’re at all interested in giving the Paleo Diet a shot, Nerd Fitness’ Beginner’s Guide to Paleo is a good resource for beginners. It reads a bit like an infomercial, but I really like Lego cavemen they use in the photos. Apparently you have to give your metabolism a couple of weeks to adjust, but after that it’ll function like clock-work. Really fast clockwork.
Will Bobo be trying out the Paleo Diet?
Totally doing away with dairy, legumes, and grains is a little extreme for my tastes.
When I want to shed weight (something I rarely have the discipline to do, as I revealed way back when I announced how awful of a person I am) I usually find that if I eat healthily during the day but cut these afore-mentioned lovely food items out of dinner for a few days, the results are ones I’m prepared to live with.
The crucial differences here being that I am completely lacking in discipline, I don’t have any dramatic weight-loss goals, and I have no grand designs on chiseling out a six-pack that would make Peter André circa 1993 shit his pants with envy.
- A subreddit is a sub-category of Reddit dedicated to a particular subject matter. Sorry for all the references to Reddit, but it has sucked up a lot of my time over the past year. That much of my material makes reference to it is to be expected. (back)
- I was going to order a cheeseburger and fries at first, but then I couldn’t stand the thought that as he sat across from me, his meal would contribute to making him look fitter and slimmer whereas every bite I would be stuffing into my gob would only serve to make me a bigger fat-ass (back)
- I think most rational people hate that sort of thing too. At least I do. (back)
- I’m kidding, he’s not fascistic about it per se, because that would mean he’s imposing it on others, which he doesn’t. It just has a nice alliterative ring to it, don’t you think? (back)