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Your Cheating Mind...

Christmas can play havoc with your brain.
Over the holidays, I was bad.  Not horribly bad, like pigging out on nightly spaghetti dinners and eating bowls of cookie dough at a sitting, but I certainly wasn't good.  I stuck to most of my Primal guns, but the cheat days (or even cheat periods) came too often for my taste (pun totally intended).

Cookies and donuts showed up at work, Reese's Peanut Butter Pumpkins and Trees appeared back in every store I entered (oh, Reese's, you are the tools of the devil, but so tasty...),  busy shopping evenings and such turned into quick bites of pizza or deep-fried meats (and I'm willing to be the cooking oils weren't of the coconut or animal-based nature)... you get the picture.  Temptation combined with convenience took over and I had the following experiences:

  1. Had to go to the bathroom and sit there a LOT.  Sorry if that's TMI, but it's a fact, and those of you reading Paleo blogs are probably used to such talk at this point.

  2. Put some poundage and softness back on around the midsection.  Not horribly, or to the point where my pants no longer fit, but enough that I looked in the mirror and cringed at the loss of so much progress.

  3. Caught a lingering head cold.

  4. Sleep was bad.

  5. Brain fog.

  6. Increased migraines - more like a constant low-level headache the entire time.

  7. Depression

I know there are some of you who'll say "oh, everyone gets depressed around the holidays."  Well, for the most part, that hasn't been me.  I love the holidays - getting together with family, seeing the kids get Christmas presents, finding just the right thing for your loved ones, and all the feelings of happiness and goodwill usually have me raring to go.

But this year, a combination of bad food leading into bad sleep, a nasty lingering head cold that probably resulted from a weakened immune system from the sleep and food,  and overall stress at work led to a very depressing time.

It was at the point where I was asking people about their experiences with Seasonal Affective Disorder on Facebook, etc., when my wife let me know that she thought I simply wasn't sleeping well (due to my increased snoring, which is an issue for me anyway).  And then it all started to come back to haunt me.

It's a great reminder that not only can bad food choices such as eating grains and seed oils more regularly cause weight gain, but it can also have other effects that are harder to see - those neurological effects such as bad sleep, depression, etc.  One of the prime things that you hear about when people finish a Paleo 30-day challenge is "Yeah, I lost a bunch of weight...but I also just feel so GOOD!"  Getting the right food into your system and the wrong foods out sets you on the path to great health, and not all great health has to do with weight loss.

I was saying in a comment on Google+ today that it's almost too bad I don't have some overarching medical condition that makes my lapses of Primal judgment more immediately apparent and punishes me for them.  If I had that sort of kick in the pants any time I so much as sniffed a bagel, then my constant success with Paleo would be more assured, I think.

But I'll take my good fortune in being fairly clear of allergies and other conditions.  And I'll just be more reminded of how important it is to keep on the path to Paleo success, not only for how I look in the mirror but how I feel in my head.


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