Two Week Newbie Advice (for newbies like me)

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created December 09, 2012 at 11:53 PM

Thought I would write in and describe my experience after 2 weeks on primal/paleo. I looked for this info, and mostly found "it sucks, but gets better" advice, which (although appreciated) not enough for a research hound like me!

Here are my own personal advice at 2 weeks in, FWIW. I started at 148 lbs, 5' 4", exercising 1-2 times per week (mostly cardio) and had been gluten-free (but sugar-addicted) for 18 months. I'm down to 141 in two weeks and energy is way up -- no sugar cravings. This lifestyle works! I am no expert but here's what I've found:

  • Write off the first few days. No matter what you are feeling, it's not normal, and it won't last. You will feel better soon.
  • Expect to feel like you're in rehab. You basically are beating an addiction to carbs and sugar. I've had fatigue, mood swings, digestive problems, sleep disturbance, hormonal shifts, acne, joint and muscle pain, headaches and general BLAH feeling. This will pass. It has passed now for me.
  • Exercising is not necessary the first couple of weeks. It will be tough to do anyway. don't expect much of yourself. Take it easy on your body.
  • Learn to cook, if you don't already. It's cheaper, and adds to the satisfaction of the paleo/primal lifestyle. You will know what's in your food. there are a ton of websites out there with paleo recipes.
  • Don't bother counting calories initially. Doing so will make your initial sacrifices seem worthless. Eat paleo foods until you are full. when you are hungry, eat more. You will eventually adjust and eat less, but starving yourself is a sure-fire way to end up cheating.
  • Drink water. I was not doing this the first week, at least, not enough. As soon as I started downing about 2 L of water a day I started seeing weight loss (or water loss, really I don't care, as long as my jeans feel more comfortable!).
  • So far, I keep waiting to wake up feeling like a million bucks. This has not yet happened. It's been a gradual improvement. For example, I am still tired a bit in the morning, but within 15 mins I'm awake and happy. This usually took about a bucket of coffee and 3 hours of bleary-eyed morning. So (as I tell myself), remember where you were a day, two days, a week, two weeks ago -- things are getting better, gradually.
  • Some bodies (like mine) are stubborn. They do not appreciate nor bend willingly to change. You may not see change immediately. This can be discouraging, but hang in there.
  • Here's some controversial advice: take it one step at a time. I cut out rice and corn products first (I was g-free before starting). Then all sugar, except for one piece of fruit (more on that later.) Now I am phasing out most dairy and lowering my caffeine intake. Not everyone is like this, but for me, I know that if I go whole-hog off the bat, I will give up, because it's too much change all at once. Steps work better for me.
  • Fat is your friend. Sugar cravings are gone with enough fat in your diet. Eat the chicken skin, steak fat, use butter and coconut oil in your cooking, etc. When you have a sugar craving, eat something with fat.
  • More controversy: I eat a piece of fruit and an ounce of cheese before bed. This seems to stave off nighttime hunger pangs. Neither is paleo-friendly, really, but it works for me, and hasn't hurt my weight loss.
  • Holiday parties are tough. If it's potluck, bring a meat and pate tray with veggies, and eat what you brought. Or eat before you go.
  • Lettuce wraps are god's gift.
  • Coconut products are great, but go easy at first. Especially the oil.
  • If you cheat, get back on the proverbial horse. The cheat will probably make you feel horrible, and that's a lesson learned.
  • My first week, I made some paleo-friendly desserts through a few website recipes. I read later that it's recommended you don't do this because of the habit of eating sweets, but I'm glad I did. When I hit a streak of horrible cravings, the paleo brownies saved me. I haven't even had a thought about sugary treats this week, so I made it through, obviously.
  • Find a buddy to sympathize with you. My friend is on a similar plan, and we supported each other through the hard first week.

I'm sure I can think of more, but hopefully this helps those who are going through the first few weeks. I did not believe I would make it this far, because the first few days were so tough. But I did, and it feels pretty natural now to eat the way I do. My next steps are to build in more exercise.

Good luck to all!

Medium avatar


on December 10, 2012
at 03:03 AM

I suggest you read this: http://paleohacks.com/questions/141594/what-are-the-top-5-things-every-paleo-newbie-should-know-but-probably-doesnt#axzz2Ec6MEtXa


on December 10, 2012
at 02:19 AM

Thanks Kashkillz ... I realize I should have stated it's not a question. I suppose if I started a blog I'd get the "every newbie starts a blog" comment as well. Can't win with some people!



on December 10, 2012
at 01:50 AM

Whatever. Post whatever you want. And don't worry, there's only a few pretentious holier-than-thou folks around here.



on December 10, 2012
at 01:04 AM

It's not a question. This isn't a blog for making posts such as yours.


on December 10, 2012
at 12:38 AM

MathGirl72 I did read the FAQs, actually. Not sure what you're implying? I didn't get much advice other than what to eat, a lot of stuff for super-fit people, and to expect the worst (and a lot of science that confused me). That's why I posted. Sorry if you thought my advice was redundant. I was just trying to help. Thanks polynesian_metal!


on December 10, 2012
at 12:08 AM

Hey Michelle, congrats and welcome to the cave!



on December 10, 2012
at 12:02 AM

Now you need to read the FAQs.

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on December 10, 2012
at 02:00 AM

Excellent post, question or not.

And I totally agree to the gradual approach to cutting grains and other carbs as long as some people don't get stuck before they're truly paleo and then conclude that paleo doesn't work for them.

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