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A Look at the Pareto Principle and Paleo

What's Holding You Back?

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by Angela Gallardo in Articles

Hey!  Welcome back!  Lately I’ve been in overdrive with work (cranking out 1-2 recipes/videos per day) in preparation for time off and a much-needed late summer vacation.  There will be long drives and campfires and hiking and beaches and visiting our old stomping ground and I’m sooo excited!

So while in overdrive mode (one of the two I seem naturally to operate in, the second being curled up in bed in the fetal position), I’ve been examining some of the baby pitfalls that seem to be holding me back.  What I’ve found is that it’s sometimes the most minute decisions or subtle shifts in mindset can be what set our path.

I learned recently that there’s a name for this concept; it’s called The Pareto Principle.  Originally stemming from the concept that 80% of Italy’s wealth belonged to 20% of the population and named after economist Vilfredo Pareto (more here).  These days, it has evolved to a more broad principle that states:

—>>>  80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes

In other words… if you aren’t achieving the results you are shooting for, it could be as simple as making small shifts in your efforts in order to get that major success.

Get Out of Your Own Way

Here are a few of the (many) different ways we can hold ourselves back when it comes to our wellness goals and desires.  Have you experienced these personally? If so, what did you do about it?

The Good Diet Crutch

I’ll be the first to celebrate the idea that a good diet is healing.  But unfortunately, many people wrap their heads around this idea and use it to justify poor lifestyle habits.

“I eat so many vegetables that I only need 5 hours of sleep.”

“I work out every day so I deserve to smoke on the weekend.”

“I work so hard on eating well that it’s “ok” if my personal relationships are horrible.”
(this one we many not want to admit)

Sticking to a good diet takes tremendous self-discipline and can often lead to inflated ego or self-confidence.  And while those of you 99.9% Paleo-ers deserve some serious credit, I hope you aren’t forgetting balance.

Balance in both your physical health and mental health.  Lifestyle habits like getting enough sleep, taking long walks, slowing down when life gets crazy, and connecting with loved ones are crucial to our wellness. So important that a near-perfect diet will never be enough to compensate for a lack in these other areas.

Carbs and Cravings

As much as I hate the idea that a Paleo-style diet is “low carb,” it’s worth mentioning that the amount of carbs you take in can greatly effect your success and/or ability to commit to Paleo (AKA managing cravings).  Gender, activity level, and genetic predisposition can all effect just how many carbs a person needs per day.  And only you can figure that out for yourself via trial and error.

I came into Paleo on a moderate carb diet.  I rarely ate bread or pasta, yet on blood tests, I was pre-diabetic.  (Diabetes runs in both sides of my family so it’s something I have to be extra cautious about.)  When moving to Paleo, eating a generous amount of fruit and starchy carb each day, my cravings were still difficult to manage.  I was dealing with several health struggles and wasn’t able to do much high intensity workout, or even much more than walking.  So it wasn’t until I dropped my carb intake down even further that it became more manageable, even easy, to stick to Paleo.  Nowadays, I average a serving of fruit and a small amount of starchy carb each day.  I’ve gone even lower in the past but as I’ve increased my activity level (and being a woman), I felt my hormones were better served with some carbs.

What’s your optimum carb level?  Adjust your intake to find out.  Still dealing with massive cravings?  You could likely cut back on the carbs a bit and increase your fat intake.

Fat Phobia

Speaking of fat… it’s difficult for many people coming to a Paleo-style diet to banish the “fat is evil” soundtrack played to us for most of our lives.  Fat carries a lot of calories and therefore can be scary if you are watching macros.  It can also take some getting used to as far as taste and mouth-feel go.  If you aren’t used to to eating high amounts of fat, your body (physically) may not be happy with extra bacon grease and butter and the countless avocados we should be eating (ha).

Have patience with yourself and work to make small increases in your fat intake.  Just like with carbs, finding the amount of fats your body is happy with can go a long way for satiety, both mentally and physically.  Try increasing your fats (50%-60% of your daily caloric intake) and see how you feel.  If you have stomach upset or your GI seems to slow down, you may need to either drink more water or add digestive enzymes or bitters.  As I talked about last week, drinking 8 oz. warm water with 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar can help to increase stomach acid and better deal with the added fats.

I’m Just Here for the Food Weight Loss

Using Paleo as a weight loss tool can be very powerful.  I’ve seen many people gain tremendous motivation from the often quick results you can get.  But while this may work at first, it can often be a deterrent as time goes on.  If you aren’t seeing the results consistently (maybe weight loss stalls for a week or two), it’s easy to lose sight of the big picture.  This can lead to a lot of crash dieting (bouncing between Whole30 and 21DSD and back again) and an overall dissatisfaction with food and “dieting” in general.

It goes without saying that a Paleo-style diet is good for more than just weight loss.  It is the key to healing countless ailments, preventing degenerative disease, and overall just feeling great all day, every day!  I continually work to take my mind off of the scale and back into my body.  While I haven’t lost all of the weight I hope to at some point, it’s not why I’m here.  It’s so easy to get wrapped up in it, I get it.  But Paleo is not a “diet;” it’s a mindset shift.  And it provides a reciprocative benefit that the more you believe that, the more it will work for you personally.

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