Shrinking Bari: making changes | The Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans LLC


I haven’t spoken about my story here in quite a long time.  If you want some background, you can find a little bit on my author page here and more on my personal blog here.  Fast forward to this past fall and spring and I found myself with the weight slowly creeping back on.  Yes, it happens to all of us, even when we are “supposed” to know how to maintain.

Why did I start gaining?  Probably a number of reasons – not being so diligent about what and how much I ate, too much beer, not enough running (or my body just being used to my exercise of choice), not enough strength training.  In any case, after I returned from spring break, I found myself a good 20 pounds over what I consider my “comfort zone”.  Adding 20 pounds to my barely 5’2″ frame was a lot. None of my clothes fit right and my workouts were suffering.  Plus, I was pretty miserable because I didn’t like the way I looked and I felt like I’d “failed”.  I needed to make changes.

I’ll be honest, to become “Shrinking Bari”, making changes takes a lot of work and it isn’t always all fun and games.  The changes I chose to make seemed drastic at first and I resisted trying something like this for a long time, but now I’m glad I did.

What did I do?

  • I changed up my eating habits to go “paleo-ish”.  If you want to know more about the Paleo Diet, this blog gives a nice, easy to understand overview of what the paleo diet entails, plus he uses Legos in his descriptions, which is pretty fun. I’d say I’m eating paleo about 85-90% of the time now.  I’ve eliminated most grains (with the exception of oatmeal before long runs, corn in the form of tortilla chips when I go out and there’s nothing else on the menu I can eat, gluten-free pizza crust when the family gets pizza, and the occasional beer).  I haven’t gone nuts with using a bunch of weird flours and I still eat soy sauce (mine happens to be gluten free) and regular butter.  I also haven’t been buying grain-fed meat because the cost is insane.
  • I’ve added in strength training two times per week.  I’m not talking the little, pink Barbie weights either.  I’m lifting heavy and every few weeks I change up the workout to keep my muscles from getting bored.
  • I’ve signed up for a marathon, which means more structured run workouts.

The Pros

  • It’s been fun trying out new recipes.  I’m a bit addicted to Pinterest as it is, and luckily this is a very good source of Paleo recipes.  I really do enjoy cooking and some of the recipes I’ve made have turned out fantastic.  Turns out I don’t even miss pasta since I learned how to make zoodles.
  • 10 pounds of weight gone in about a month.  I hadn’t really noticed until after my race last weekend.  I’d posted a picture of my girlfriend and I running and another friend commented on how much my weight loss showed.   I went back and found that picture from the Gazelle Girl Half in April and DAMN! I look pretty good now 🙂
  • My clothes are fitting again.  Getting back into my skinnier jeans feels fantastic.
  • I feel pretty good when I eat cleaner.
  • I’m sleeping better. “Better” is relative for me because my sleep is still pretty broken, but when I do sleep, it’s much deeper.
  • I’m feeling pretty darn proud of myself for sticking with this for as long as I have.

The Cons

  • The entire family hasn’t bought in to this new form of eating.  If fact, I’ve gotten some major flak from my son, who is a very picky eater.  He won’t try most of what I make, so he’s eating a lot of turkey sandwiches and pizza rolls.  My daughter is more adventurous and will at least try things like spaghetti squash and zoodles.  My husband has eaten what I’ve made with little complaint and has asked that a few of the recipes to make it into the regular rotation.
  • Going out with friends is still really hard.  I can usually find something on a dinner menu that can be paleo-ish, but some places just aren’t paleo-friendly.  This is why I’ve resorted to chips and salsa when I go out for drinks and appetizers with friends.  I’m more that a little worried about my trip coming up at the end of June and how I’m going to stay relatively on plan.
  • It’s expensive.  As a family, we are still trying to figure out what works best for meal planning and grocery shopping.  Historically, we do all our shopping on Sunday, but the amount of produce I’m buying doesn’t always stay fresh by Thursday or Friday and I’ve been throwing a lot away.  Also, if you go all-in, thing like coconut oil, almond and coconut flour, and organic meats and vegetables are VERY expensive.  This is one reason I’m not 100% paleo.
  • I miss beer.  Gluten-free beer, cider and wine just aren’t my loves.  I’ve always had a sensitivity to something in beer (I think it’s the hops or yeast), so even the gluten-free beer makes me stuffed up, but when I “cheat” and have real beer, it’s much worse now.  Knowing I’m going to feel like crap if I go overboard is a decent incentive for moderation though.
  • Fueling for long runs is still a work in progress.  I’ve had some pretty bad crashes after runs lately because my body hasn’t figured out how to fuel off of fat and I haven’t figured out what I can and can’t eat before or during runs to optimize performance.   I’ve been using Honey Stinger chews, but they don’t last long enough and I’d have to carry about 5 pouches to fuel for the marathon – those won’t fit in my spibelt.  I know I’m going to figure it out, but for right now it kind of sucks.

The Take-Aways

  • Making changes is hard but it’s doable.  If I can adopt a paleo-ish lifestyle – ANYONE CAN.
  • Trying new recipes is fun.
  • If feels pretty freaking good to have some success again.
  • We are always a work in progress.
  • Sometimes we need to take a step backwards before we can move forwards again.

I welcome any feedback – particularly where fueling for my runs is concerned. Also, if you have any great paleo recipes, hit me up in the comments!

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Bari is an avid runner and sometime triathlete, learning the importance of training smart but also having fun. She loves to share a good beer with friends and has been known to host virtual toasts on Twitter. When she isn’t running, biking, swimming, or trying to lift heavy things, she’s playing on her phone or trying to figure out how to pay for college for her twins who graduate in 2015. Bari lives in West Michigan and loves to encourage new runners and triathletes to reach their goals.