Paleo Diet vs. Weight Watchers

By Kerry Nordling (BFF of the Mayes and 30-something trying get healthy) HELLO!! I am proud to be a guest blogger this week at Iron PT and happy to share my story of trying to lose weight and gain a healthy lifestyle. 

Meri and I have been friends for over 30 years, and she has always been a constant support and resource in my quest to be healthy. I’ve not been terribly successful to this point, but we are back on the horse people and trying to make a HUGE change!

My Diet Black Book________________

Unfortunately, I’ve been overweight much of my adult life. I have lost 30 or more pounds three times before:

  • once using Weight Watchers when I was about 24;

  • once using the South Beach Diet when I was about 28;

  • and last summer (2011), I lost 30lbs with calorie counting

All of the weight has come back, either after a matter of months or after a year or two.  I’ve never been able to take it off, and KEEP it off -- the goal for all of us with weight loss in mind!!

The Mountain______________________

So I began my quest for permanent weight loss and health AGAIN in May 2012. I went back to keeping a food journal ( is a great resource) and eating approximately 1,200 calories a day (I'm 5'9").

A month later, after virtually no results, I added in a personal trainer (2x a week) and a brand new shiny gym membership! Even though my whole life weight loss has been all about what I eat, not how much I exercise, I know a healthy lifestyle includes both diet AND exercise. 

For four months, I was extremely diligent in my food tracking, eating and exercise.  And NOTHING happened. Literally, nothing. I was hugely discouraged, and I was tired. Tired of eating so little, tired of working out with no results on the scale, tired of feeling like a failure and tired of being HUNGRY. Not a good combination for someone trying to stay positive and make a big lifestyle change!

The Aha!___________________________

I knew what I was doing wasn't working, so I needed to make some changes. I needed it both mentally and physically. So here's what I did:

  1. Diet Change - I had been hearing a lot about Paleo and decided I would give it a try. The philosophy made sense for weight loss (i.e., cutting out triggers like sugar and carbs), and I also wanted to see if it improved my chronic IBS and migraines.

  2. A trip to the doctor! After eating 1200 calories/day and not losing weight, I had to find out if there was a medical problem. All the blood work from my annual physical was normal, but my friends encouraged me to go to an Endocrinologist to determine if I had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. PCOS is a hormonal disorder that affects 5-10% of women and is believed to be fundamentally caused by insensitivity to the hormone insulin. As it turns out, I do have PCOS, so this was one of my fundamental problems! Not a diagnosis I wanted, but definitely the explanation I was seeking. I will be starting on medication which should help to correct this, but the Paleo diet helped me lose 8.5 lbs. before any prescription.


D-day was September 24th...a VERY LONG trip to the grocery store the day before to pack the fridge and pantry with Paleo friendly foods and staples like nuts and oils and fresh fruit and veggies.

Scared out of my gourd, but ready. I was scared as I wasn’t sure I could actually cut dairy, gluten, grains, and sugar out of my diet completely. It seems like an impossible task when first thinking about it, but I can promise you it does get easier once you are into it.

I felt pretty good the first two days, and then the withdrawal from sugar hit me on day 3. I’d felt like I had a really nasty hangover - sluggish and grumpy with a terrible headache, but I knew it would pass.

The good news is that I had ZERO stomach issues the first 2 weeks and no additional headaches. I slept much better than I have in a long time, and I felt like I had more energy.

My weigh-in day is on Friday each week, and I lost 5lbs those first five days, and 3.5lbs the next week. I was in Germany last week for work, and unfortunately could not closely follow the diet plan, but I am back at Paleo as of Sunday10/14.

Moving Forward____________________

So I'm starting the 3rd week of Paleo and although I am not hungry (a VERY good thing!!), the prep is starting to wear me down.  I’d like not to wash what feels like 100 dishes a night and cut 80 fruits and vegetables for the next day, but no dice folks.  It’s the way it has to be with this way of life, and if I continue to lose weight like I have and continue to feel as good as I do, then the prep is just a small thing in this quest. 

The hardest thing for me has been giving up my sugary, delicious, Carmel Macchiato each morning. When calorie counting, I used to account for this in daily calories, but it was a big calorie suck, not allowing me to eat as much breakfast as I should have. I now have a regular coffee with a bit of cream and one stevia (natural sweetener from a plant) in my morning coffee.  This is my only caveat to the diet-my only “cheat” if you will with dairy.

I do plan to keep many aspects of Paleo in my diet for the rest of my life. I think I could be nearly gluten free about 90% of the time --  less holidays and special birthdays - let’s not get crazy and say I’ll never eat cake again in my life!  I think I can also limit most sugar as well. After 30 days, dairy will likely be added back in very small doses.

So onwards and upwards…or downwards for those of us trying to lose the pounds for good-ha! The moral of the story is that one size does not fit all. I still think Weight Watchers is an amazing program, but the body changes over time and what works at one time, for one person, won't work all the time.

Good luck with your quest for health!