I have been a CrossFitter since November 1, 2009. Since that time I have dabbled with the Paleo way of eating- what CrossFitter hasn’t, but after the last Paleo Challenge at my CrossFit, this past February (2012), I decided to stick with it. I am not perfect, and still consider myself a newbie as I learn the modern science behind this way of eating. One thing for sure- I am leaner, stronger, experience more energy and less mood swings, sleep better, and enjoy clearer skin and less aches and pains.
Lean meats, fish, and eggs, fruits and veggies, nuts and seeds, healthy oils like – olive, coconut, and avocado.
Dairy, tubers, grains, sugar in any form, legumes, alcohol, caffeine, processed or cured foods.
I do eat sweet potatoes, especially post workout. I occasionally use honey, real maple syrup, and dates in small amounts to sweeten desserts, soups, and other dishes. I do enjoy a tiny piece of good quality dark chocolate. I do eat green beans, sugar snap peas, and snow peas. I do have 1-2 alcoholic beverages per month. I drink black coffee every morning- I suffer from severe headaches and the caffeine helps. I do make poor choices on occasion, but know that by doing so I am throwing my body into an inflammatory response, causing my brain to twist it’s little self into knots to regulate my body again. There are consequences for for poor choices, mine are belly aches, pimples, headaches, poor training at the gym, digestive issues, and sluggishness.
The Paleo Lifestyle is the easiest to comprehend and the most challenging to execute. You must have the appropriate choices at your fingertips, you must plan, and you must be diligent. If there are no proteins, fruits, and veggies ready to go in your fridge for a quick bite, you will be tempted to grab junk. Be purposeful. Many ask me what I snack on. My answer, “Lean meats, fish, and eggs, fruits and veggies, nuts and seeds, and healthy oils.” Snacks are quick, smaller versions of a regular meal.
Advice for those who want to go Paleo…
You can do one of two things, go strict Paleo by following Robb Wolf’s site (Robb Wolf’s 30 Total Transformation will get you started) or go Primal by following Mark Sisson’s Primal Blueprint. Choose one plan and stick to it for 30 days, then after the 30 days, dabble in both plans. From what I gather, the Primals include a few more food items like some dairy, and are a little more lenient on bacon! Use common sense, find what works for you, and give it a good 30 days before giving up. You will feel hungry for 10-14 days. You will be grouchy. You will crave sugar. You may have a headache for a few days. At the 2 week mark, you may experience less sugar cravings, find you are snacking less, your skin will begin to brighten and clear, that belly bloat with change, and you will feel better. At least that is what I experienced, we are all different.
My 2012 Paleo Challenge Testimony…
“You will follow this Mantra very strictly for the next 4 weeks.” stated my coach in her email to my 2012 Paleo Challenge Tyson’s Corner CrossFit team members.
“Meat, and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch, and no sugar!”
She continued with, “if it is not in the mantra, do not eat it,” and another list of no-no’s to be sure we were absolutely clear, because she knew if she gave us 100m, we would take the whole 400. She instructed no processed meats, sausage, lunch meats, or bacon; no sugar of any kind including honey; no alcohol; no tubers; no legumes-green beans, sugar snap peas, snow peas, peanuts including peanut butter, or any other bean; no dairy– 6 eggs per week in any form OK; no chocolate, not even dark; no fried foods; no dried fruits; and no grains.
There was whining “but the books says”, shouting “what, no bacon?!”, with Coach Kari digging her heels in the rule book and sending us off with a 3…2…1…Go! We were on our way to the cleanest eating, hardest training, and biggest camaraderie our CrossFit Box has seen in a long time.
1. To Finish!
2. Get off my lifting plateaus in the Deadlift, Shoulder Press, Back Squat, and Bench Press.
3. Increase Strength and improve my Fight Gone Bad (FGB) Score. Initial-180. Post– 203!!
4. Clear up my facial acne.
5. Stop the sugar rushes and cravings.
6. Increase Energy.
My husband can attest to the fact that the first week of the challenge I was a witch with a capital you know what. I snapped at everyone, felt hungry and unsatisfied all the time, and mourned the foods I loved, like cakes and pastries, pasta, and bread. I mean, come on, it’s my business to create luscious looking foods for bigredkitchen.com! Then I hit my first PR at the gym. I Shoulder Pressed 52.5 pounds, the most I had lifted over head ever. I was encouraged by this progress in the strength department. More PR’s followed in the Bench 70 pounds, Deadlift 130 pounds, and Back Squat 85 pounds. This Challenge was proving to me that Paleo worked. My skin began to clear up, I was less hungry, experienced more energy, and dropped my Body Fat to 15% and shredded 5 pounds, weighing in at a whopping 93 pounds (I’m 5’0”) at my final weigh-in. Lean and Mean– emphasis on MEAN. This was a huge challenge for me, and a cupcake every now and then would’ve been nice.
PS- My children are not Paleo. I would appreciate it if you did not judge me for that, or you can come over and deal with the tears, gag reflexes, and the occasional plate of, well, “cookies” when they try something they do not like- I have faith they will get there because of the choices they see Himself and me make. At our meals we offer a protein, vegetables, fruit, and a rice, potato, or pasta side dish for the kids.
** We have one child with severe tree nut, sesame, and coconut allergies. We have to be very careful when cooking Paleo in our kitchen, we must be very careful when people offer him gluten-free treats which most of the time are made with coconut and almond flours.
PPS- Here on bigredkitchen.com you will see Paleo Recipes and Non-Paleo Recipes. I still enjoy bringing Non-Paleo foods to potlucks, bake sales, parties, and picnics. I still embrace my Italian Heritage through the food I was raised eating- pasta, pastries, and bread, I just very rarely eat it now. So maybe I am a hypocrite for offering both, whatever. BRK is a place for everyone, I hope you find something here you like!
PPPS- I will leave it up to you to interpret and read up on Paleo Science yourself. I retired from teaching science in 2011. It is not my desire to “do” the work for you, because this girl just wants to have fun!
Update 2014: The paleo journey has been a great one and has taught me that the gut is the most important place to clean up for wellness! I feel better eating clean, and I notice less inflammation in my joints. But since adding Stand Up Paddleboarding as my sport I found I needed more to keep the weight on, in fact I needed to add weight to be more competitive, and I needed more carbs to maintain energy through my training sessions. With a little more research I found I needed to do a more “Paleo Plus” type diet by adding more carbs such a white potatoes, organic white rice, gluten-free oatmeal, and quinoa. Whoa, what a difference! Energy is a good thing:) The point is, play around, read, learn and experiment with your training and diet.
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My 2012 Paleo Challenge Photo Gallery on FB.
Click here for my Paleo Recipes.
Questions? Contact me at robinsue (at) bigredkitchen (dot) com