I was lucky enough to interview Michelle from Primal Journey to share her journey of weight loss, maintenance and finding optimal health. One of my favourite things is to share other people’s journey to wellbeing, and although I don’t follow a primal eating pattern, I love Michelle’s new focus on wellness and finding balance.
If you haven’t seen Michelle’s blog, she’s quite an inspiration. Since starting her journey in 2008, she’s lost 40kg and maintained it. Her blog has recently had a very lovely makeover and a change of focus. After being very low carb for many years has unfortunately had a few side effects for Michelle and her blog now follows her journey to better health.
Here’s her interview with Eat Well NZ.
You have made an amazing accomplishment with your weight loss since 2008 as well as maintaining it. What are some key lessons you’ve learned from your weight loss journey?
My biggest lesson was to not get cocky! When I first lost it all I thought I was bulletproof, I learnt pretty quickly that maintaining weight loss truly is the hardest part. When you lose weight you have such a focus that nothing can get in the way because you have such a great momentum, however once you reach your goal it’s really easy to relax and think you can eat more than you really can.
How has your approach to food changed from the start of your weight loss journey to today?
One of my favourite posts you shared was about learning to enjoy food in “moderation” when you thought you couldn’t. Can you share with us some of the things that have helped you to do this?
To be honest I still struggle with this sometimes, I’m slowly learning moderation and sometimes I think balance is harder than abstinence. I do think that our personalities dictate so much of this, some of us are all or nothing and others love balance. I have always been an all or nothing personality and I really struggle with balance. One of the ways I have overcome some of that all or nothing thinking is to remind myself I don’t want to feel like I’m on a “diet” forever so allowing myself some treats here and there is what makes this change of eating feel like a lifestyle.
Don’t get me wrong I do have to watch myself still as sometimes it’s just a slippery slope and one cookie just leads to 3 or 4 cookies and most of that is dependant on whether I’m being too restrictive in my diet. There’s a huge difference between being restrictive and being mindful. I try and be more mindful, if I am going to eat something that is considered a treat I have to remind myself that it is just that, a treat and something to be had every now and then. If I treat myself too much then I feel like I lose my balance and it becomes a free for all. It really is quite a delicate balance and it’s not easy, as I said I still struggle with this!
Fasting and ketogenic diets are pretty “hot” right now. While of course they can help with weight loss and some people enjoy this lifestyle, they can take their toll mentally, and physically for some people. What are some of the side effects you’ve had?
They sure are and they definitely have there place! But I caution people to do the research and if something doesn’t feel right then to stop immediately. While they are amazing for weight loss, yes I have had fast weight loss from fasting and following a ketogenic diet it has really done a number on my adrenals.
Initially I had all the energy in the world, I thought I could literally do anything, it was go go go in the energy department and the weight just fell off…little did I know I was just running on adrenalin the entire time and I eventually burnt my adrenals and not my cortisol is all out of whack! I cannot even function if I go too low carb otherwise my sleep is all over the show, my PCOS is worse, and my gut health is terrible! It was a hard lesson to learn and I’m only just starting to come out the other side, I make sure I have adequate carbs, sleep as much as possible plus walking and yoga helps! Slow weight loss truly is the best and the most sustainable.
Since changing your eating style recently, what are some of the changes you’ve seen in your health/wellbeing?
Mostly its been a change in my relationship with myself, realising I am enough just the way I am today and not waiting to look “ prefect” because perfect doesn’t even exist! I am slowly learning not to define myself by my body, a number on the scale or the size of my clothes, it’s HARD!!! I’ve been that girl who lost 42kgs and I let that define me for a really long time. Underneath all of that is so much more, and my future is not going to be dictated by how I look.
Carbs… What is the difference between your approach during weight loss and your approach now?
OMG did you just swear! No but really the Carbs subject is just so hotly debated, it always has been and it’s really just going through the same demonisation as fat did back in the 80’s. Females tend to have the biggest reaction to dropping their carbs too low, while it worked for me initially to get the weight off I became so carb sensitive after wards and it has taken me a really long time to be able to eat carbs like fruit and starchy carbs without having blood sugar irregularities. So long as I eat my carbs as part of a balanced meal I have no issue with blood sugar. I make sure I eat about 75-125gms of carbs a day which is a far cry from when I was doing Ketogenic of about 20-50gms a day! I feel far more balanced these days.
What would a typical day eating look like for you now?
These days I eat very much what I would frame balanced Paleo and I really try to get veggies in with every meal if I can to up the micronutrients.
I don’t tend to snack but if I do it’s usually on nuts or some coconut butter.
Quick fire favourites…
Anything else you’d like to share?