Have a question, success story, or something to share about the 30 Day Paleo Challenge, Building a Paleo Plate, recipes, encouraged foods, or more? Let us know in the “Comments” section below, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contributed by Coach Karen
What will you eat for breakfast when the EAD / CFAH Winter 2013 30 Day Paleo Challenge concludes in less than 175 hours?
Will you join more than one-third of Americans who drop anchor with the Cap’N and pour a bowl of cold cereal? Are you more likely to grab a bagel, toast, muffin or pastry? Maybe you’ll go back to skipping breakfast. Or – dare I suggest? – your first post-Challenge forkful February 6 is no different than the thoroughly planned and carefully considered choices you’ve made since January 7?
Thirty days of eating clean and green is a great start, but it’s not really enough. Consider how long you’ve unconsciously consumed calories, with little regard to how the food was chemically treated, processed and handled before it hit your plate. For most of us, we’ve lived far longer with mindless versus mindful eating, which is why I encourage you to continue to build meals and snacks brimming with nutrient-dense and energy-enriching foods to fuel your performance-based lifestyle.
Wednesday, Feb. 6 – the first post-challenge day – will be no different than the previous 30 for many EAD / CFAH athletes; they will remain steadfast Paleo eaters. The very thought of adding grains & legumes, dairy, starchy veg, sugars and processed foods invokes an involuntary shudder, and perhaps a bit of bile for these folks. Some participants will jump off the Paleo wagon with abandon and chalk up the past 30 days to another life experience. Some will opt to eat Paleo 80 percent of the time, and reserve 20 percent for planned, mindful variety. And yet others will devise some variation of all of the above. There is no right answer for everyone, but you owe it to yourself to take time to make a conscious choice about how you will eat going forward. I strongly encourage you to maintain the key elements you learned, practiced, and (perhaps) perfected over the past 30 days, including:
- Avoid diet sodas; non-nutritive / artificial sweeteners; high-fructose corn syrup; foods with added sugars; partially or fully hydrogenated fats & oils; refined grains; processed foods; drive through / fast foods; ground & composite meats (like sausage) made from unknown / factory sources; packaged foods with ingredients you can’t pronounce or have no idea of their purpose; artificial preservatives & colors; glutamates
- Eat a hearty and well-rounded breakfast
- Fuel training with appropriately timed pre- and post-WOD food choices
- Select grass-fed beef, free-range poultry, wild caught seafood
- Shop the perimeter or the grocery store
- Choose nutrient-dense, dark leafy greens, and nutritional multi-taskers
- Judiciously read labels
- Research nutritional information when you eat out, and boldly call off less-desireable ingredients at restaurants
- Plan meals with vigor & intent
- Ban “clutch & crutch” foods – the ones that may fill a temporary emotional need or satisfy a habit but make you feel icky – from your pantry
- Consider what you eat, eats –pay attention to what you put in your body, and how your body responds.
Next Steps, Part 1.
Over the next few days, take stock of what feels different after eating clean and green since January 7. Grab a piece of paper and a pen, take five minutes and write down everything that comes to mind:
- How you feel overall
- Changes you’ve noticed in your relationship with food — how you sleep, how you shop, how your body responds to food, and more
- The absence of symptoms that you previously accepted as “normal”
- Comments people have made about the changes they’ve seen in you
- What was easy, what was challenging, what surprised you
- Compliments you’ve received, and more.
Then take another five minutes and really read the list. Aloud. Let it wash over you. Celebrate what you’ve accomplished. And then plan your next steps.
As tempting as it may be, don’t hit the breakfast or lunch buffet February 6. Many of you have shared with me near miraculous health improvements since eating Paleo. If you load up your plate with grains, legumes, dairy, sugars & processed foods, you’ll never know which foods — if any — trigger your body’s inflammation cycle, complete with aches & pains, belly bloat, sinus congestion, embarrassing gas attacks, constipation, diarrhea, headaches, “brain fog”, mean streaks / mood swings, and more. Instead, consider the following food re-introduction process:
- Introduce each of the known inflammation-provoking foods – grains / gluten, eggs, diary, nightshades – one at a time, and in that order.
- For four consecutive days, add one meal that includes the potentially-offending food; then for three days remove the food. If you have any reaction (The Inflammation Cycle), you’ll know that food group is one you should continue to avoid.
- For the seven-day cycle, pay close attention to how your body — and those around you — react. Did you need to unbutton your pants after eating the plate of pasta? Is your nose stuffy after drinking coffee with cream? Did anyone suggest you were a bit moody? Is your sleep suddenly restless? Do you feel sluggish during training? These are signs that the food may not be your friend.
- Do not overlap the food groups – re-introduce only one food per week. Food sensitivities or intolerance may rear up immediately, or it may take a few days for you to notice.
- If you’re eating Paleo to combat an auto-immune issue, you may want to stick with it for an additional 30 days.
Next Steps, Part 2.
Be sure to take time to complete the Post-Paleo Challenge Questionnaire, break out the scale for the first time in 30 days (as if I needed to remind you to do that!), take your measurements, and snap the post-challege photo.If you completed the Paleo Baseline WOD, be sure to repeat the WOD Tuesday, Feb. 5.
Please submit your Pre- & Post-Paleo Challenge Questionnaire so I can complete an analysis of the changes experienced by folks who committed to the challenge. Didn’t make it the full 30 days? That’s okay … submit the paperwork anyway, along with a note as to why you opted out. Everyone who completes and turns in the pre- & post-Challenge Questionnaire will be entered in a drawing for three classes added to their account.
Keep Me Posted.
If you opt to continue eating Paleo in any form, check in regularly with me, and feel free to continue to ask questions — how you fuel has a direct impact on how you perform during training and throughout your day.
Contributed by Coach Karen
Nuts — without question — are the “go to” snack or recipe ingredient for most participants in the EAD / CFAH 30 Day Paleo Challenge. Munch walnuts to quell a craving. Grind almonds for pizza crust or Paleo treats. Sprinkle cashews on stir fry. Toss macadamia nuts in a smoothie. Eating Paleo for many turns the kitchen into a veritable nut house. That makes Week #3 of the 30 Day Paleo Challenge the perfect time to question the craziness and consider cracking the attraction that’s making you go nuts.
Nuts are nutritious, satisfying and convenient little gems. They’re fiber-rich, and a great source of monounsaturated fats, which have been shown to reduce low-density lipoprotein or “bad” cholesterol, while increasing high-density lipoprotein or “good” cholesterol. But they’re calorie-dense, and high in lectins, phytates and other enzyme inhibitors. They can quickly push more nutritious foods off your plate, and, of most interest, are rich in polyunsaturated fat and pro-inflammatory Omega-6 fatty acids.
Nut or Butt? Calories in nuts come primarily from fat, and those calories tally quickly as you snack ‘em by the handful, or incorporate them in breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes. Consuming too many nuts could negatively impact body composition changes. Robb Wolf, EAD / CFAH 30 Paleo Challenge mentor-at-large and Paleo expert, targets over-zealous nut consumption as a key barrier to fat loss.
Empty Satisfaction? The grab-and-go nature of nuts is dangerous when you’re tired, overwhelmed or under-supplied. A bag of nuts or jar of nut butter—plus a comfy couch and favorite TV show—offer an attractive alternative to shopping and preparing a nutritious meal. Nuts also drive satiety, or that satisfied feeling of fullness, making it easier to leave the kale and other nutrient-dense offerings behind.
Skew You. Tipping the Omega-6:Omega-3 ratio is likely the most adverse impact of habitually eating nuts. Nuts tend to tilt to pro-inflammatory Omega-6 fatty acids, so eating too many drive you away from the desired 4:1-5:1 ratio of Omega-6s:Omega-3s.
Seek Equilibrium. Building a Paleo Plate is a great start to establishing Omega-6:Omega-3 equilibrium. But it takes work. According to holistic living expert Chris Kresser, the average American consumes 9 percent of total calories from pro-inflammatory Omega-6 foods. With no change in Omega-6 consumption, that equates to eating 11 ounces of wild-caught salmon every day to just keep pace.
Kresser says a more realistic approach to creating Omega Equilibrium is to increase consumption of anti-inflammatory Omega-3s—say three 4-ounce servings of wild caught salmon weekly—and decrease Omega-6 intake to approximately 3 percent of total calories by eliminating processed and packaged foods, and conventionally-raised poultry and pork; limiting restaurant meals; and mindfully munching nuts … essentially following the EAD / CFAH 30 Day Paleo Challenge. Other options to increase Omega-3 include enjoying Grassfed Beef and Omega-3 eggs.
Mark Sisson of Mark’s Daily Apple fame has a simple approach. “What drew our ancestors to nuts – the caloric density and the fat content – is what makes them ‘dangerous’ to modern man. It makes sense that we easily snack on them all day, because our ancestors probably gorged themselves on nuts when they were available. We should eat them, too, but it’s important to stick to reasonable, evolutionarily realistic amounts.”
If nuts have been more like a healthy condiment in your meal and snack planning during the first two weeks of the EAD / CFAH 30 Paleo Challenge, keep up the great work; bonus points if you pick nuts high in saturated fat and low in polyunsaturated fats like Macadamias, Cashews and Hazelnuts. However, if nuts have been more like the main course, it is time to make an adjustment.
Food for Thought. Would you go batty if you gave up nuts for one week? Comment.
 Lectins are carb-binding proteins that can stick to the lining of the small intestine and trigger a host of problems. Foods high in lectins are at the top of the “Avoid” or “Moderation” lists during the 30 Day Paleo Challenge – grains, legumes, soy, dairy, related oils, nuts and members of the nightshade family.
 Phytates are antioxidant compounds found in whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds that can bind to, and slow absorption of, certain dietary minerals. You can soak nuts overnight in water with sea salt to leech the phytates. Drain the water, spread the nuts on a baking sheet and dehydrated for 8 hours in a 140-degree oven; cool and refrigerate.
 Enzyme inhibitors bind to enzymes and decrease their activity, potentially disrupting digestion and absorption.
 The typical American ratio of Omega-6-Omega-3 fatty acids 10:1-20:1, a contributing factor in increased rates of Cardiovascular Disease, Type 2 Diabetes, Obesity, Metabolic Syndrome, Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Inflammatory Bowel Disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Asthma, Cancer, and more (see The Inflammation Cycle).
 Based on a 2,000 calorie diet.
Contributed by Coach Karen
What a difference a week makes.
The number and fervor of the “I-can’t-believe-(insert testimony)-after-eating-Paleo-for-just-12-days” anecdotes far exceed even a passing mention of food cravings by participants in the Winter 2013 EAD / CFAH 30 Day Paleo Challenge.
Ask anyone fully on-board with eating clean & green since January 7 and they’ll regale you with tales of deeper sleep, brighter eyes, clearer skin, better and more consistent (ahem) evacuation, boundless energy, less belching, a flatter tummy, and more. Nothing like a bit of success to squelch the Week #2 doubt of “Can I make it for 30 days?” Ask challenge participants that question as they head in to Week #3 and they’ll answer “I’ll never stop eating this way!”
Most challenge participants are beginning to recognize that building a Paleo Plate is about abundance, not deprivation. Diets and calorie restriction deprive the body of nutrients and energy to function and perform, and deliver a “skinny fat” aesthetic. Eating Paleo fuels performance while you train and throughout your day, and drives desired and sustainable body composition changes. That’s why the scale is banished during the 30 Day Paleo Challenge (and dare I say, beyond …). The metrics we track have much more to do with gains in strength, power, muscular endurance, and overall athletic performance; improve these, and you will achieve your dream “look.”
Week #3 is the perfect time to fine-tune your Paleo Performance Fueling. EAD / CFAH 30 Day Paleo Challenge mentor-at-large and Paleo expert Robb Wolf this week released a series of charts that help decode what, when and how much you eat based on your goal: autoimmunity, endurance, strength & power, or fat loss.
If you’ve participated in one of the EAD / CFAH Performance Fueling Nutrition Workshops, or met with me one-on-one, you’ll find great symmetry between my recommendations and Wolf’s charts, and the protein and calorie guidelines won’t phase you. Some of you, however, might be shocked by how many calories you should take on board each day. If your jaw is slack and you gasp as you read the calorie guidelines, please don’t panic; contact me and we can walk through the necessary progression to increase your calorie count. Please don’t dramatically increase or decrease calorie count overnight. Let me say that again. If you currently take 1,500 calories on board each day, but you should be closer to 2,800, the calorie increase is gradual over weeks, and possibly months.
Take a moment to review the charts, assess how your current fueling syncs up, and contact me with any questions or concerns.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT. Has anyone tried to derail your progress since you started eating Paleo? If so, how did you handle the situation? Post your “Comments”.
Contributed by Coach Karen
One of the more popular questions posed this week — “Why eat Paleo?” — is not really the question folks want answered. Five days in to the EAD / CFAH Winter 2013 30 Day Paleo Challenge, what folks really wonder is “What did I get myself into?” and “Can I make it for 30 days?”
It isn’t surprising that folks question their choice to eat Paleo based on the dramatic change required to eat real food instead of desert for breakfast. Shop for, cook and eat veggies with every meal. Try new herbs and spices. Scrupulously read labels. Cook and cook and cook some more. Break-up with processed and empty-calorie foods that bring comfort, assuage fear, calm nerves, fill voids, satisfy routine and feed habit. Withstand loving — and not-so-loving — critique and commentary from family, friends and co-workers. Acknowledge the harsh reality of how absolutely awful they ate pre-challenge. Make conscious choices about the foods they eat, instead of grabbing whatever is handy. And, learn more about the food chain, and how what you eat eats can negatively impact your health.
As Week #1 of the EAD / CFAH Winter 2013 30 Day Paleo Challenge winds down, first-time and returning challenge participants should begin to find relief from headaches, food cravings, crabbiness and the sense of loss over “go to” foods. The sugar and carbohydrate cravings should subside, and the underpinnings of a new, healthy relationship with food as fuel for performance begins to undermine mindless, habit-based or emotional-crutch eating.
Yes, you really can make it 30 days of eating clean and green. Don’t let a moment — and it truly is just a moment — of discomfort sway you from your long-term goal of establishing a sustainable, healthy way to fuel performance, in the gym and throughout your life.
When it comes to the larger question of “Why eat Paleo?”, one of the more compelling reasons is to reduce low-grade, chronic inflammation. Several area orthopedic surgeons and rheumatologists say their first line of defense when working with patients suffering from chronic joint pain is to prescribe an inflammation-free diet for 30 days. The diet excludes all foods known to start and sustain the The Inflammation Cycle. Sound familiar? The foods enlightened docs ask their patients to sideline — instead of automatically prescribing meds — match the foods EAD / CFAH Winter 2013 30 Day Paleo Challenge participants opted to leave behind until Tuesday, Feb. 5.
Eager Achiever Paleo Challenge participants — those who started before January 7 — have already begun to chart improvements in one or more of the signs of inflammation. If you asked them prior to removing the inflammation-provoking foods from their diet if they had a sensitivity to any foods on the list, they would’ve categorically said “No way”; that would not be their answer today. Take a look at the The Inflammation Cycle chart. Recognize any of the signs of inflammation in yourself? If you’re like most people, you will. Stick with eating clean and green, and imagine what you might learn about yourself between now and February 5.
Food for Thought. What was your experience — good, bad, indifferent — during Week #1 of the EAD / CFAH Winter 2013 30 Day Paleo Challenge? Post your thoughts in the “Comments” section.
We put out a call to EAD / CFAH athletes and friends of EAD / CFAH, who successfully completed previous 30 Day Paleo Challenges for tips and suggestions on how to thrive. Here’s what they had to say. Help the Tips List grow … post your thoughts below in the “Comments” section. The Winter 2013 EAD / CFAH Paleo Challenge starts Monday, Jan. 7.
“Be sure to eat enough. Paleo is not about calorie deprivation; it’s about giving your body what it needs. Eat to fuel your training. Train with intensity. Get plenty of sleep. Adhere to a recovery schedule. Your body composition and performance goals are an outcome of those choices.” — Coach Jim
“My biggest advice to those starting out is keep it simple … it’s too overwhelming to start looking for all these creative recipes and try to keep up with it for thirty days solid. Focus on making a simple protein with a vegetable to start. Some of my first meals were just as simple as a broiled chicken breast with steamed broccoli. After you get the hang of it (which doesn’t take too long) you can start experimenting with Paleo recipes that you find online or in a cookbook (“Practical Paleo” is my favorite). Good luck! Just remember you can do this! Just take it one day at a time!” — Licia
“Get rid of the food in your house that is going to entice you to cheat…literally give it away. You don’t want it available in a moment of weakness.” – Coach Alida
“When going out, don’t be afraid to be difficult, modify your order, and spend a little more on your food (this shouldn’t matter because you shouldn’t be going out to eat as much!).” — Chad Hobbs, CrossFit Bloomington Normal
“I have a few tips. Prepare lots of food when you have the time — Tupperware is your best friend. Figure out ‘go-to’ meals (something you pretty much always have on hand, easy to make, and tastes good) for when you are in a bind.Unless you make omelets yourself, there’s probably additives or pancake batter in them (for fluffiness). Coconut milk is good in coffee. The words that inspired me to do the 30 days: ‘This. Will. Change. Your. Life.’” — Heather Refenes, CrossFit EPC
“At least once or twice week make a bigger dinner so that you have plenty of leftovers for the week. For example, if I’m making roasted chicken breasts instead of making 4 breasts I will make 8-10. I will have that chicken for salads as well as snacks. It’s also a good idea to make a crockpot recipe such as chili (I just make my chili but without beans) or chicken enchilada stew from PaleOmg.com. This will help you because you will be doing a lot of cooking! For snacks kale chips were a life saver. I would suggest having those around if possible. Baby carrots, grape tomatoes, and those small bell peppers in bag that you get at Costco were also perfect to have in the fridge for a snack.” — Licia
“For people who are doing this for the first time, and coming from miserable SAD eating habits, I think the biggest hurdles are not just routine but perhaps more importantly, hormonal. I think could help people here are reading ‘It Starts With Food’ by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig. It is invaluable in helping people understand why they crave things they do and why the ‘food’ they eat makes them feel the way it does. The very thought of eating certain things in packages is revolting to me at this point! I hope everyone has fun and feels the results!” — Tim M
“Concentrate on what you can have …not what you can’t. Think about additions to your plate like lots of nutrient-dense vegetables, Omega 3-rich grassfed beef, satisfying and delicious healthy fats, and flavorful fresh herbs, spices and seasonings. The cleaner you eat, the cleaner you will want to eat.” – Coach Karen
Welcome to the Elite Athletic Development l CrossFit Arlington Heights 30 Day Paleo Challenge, Monday, Jan. 7 – Tuesday, Feb. 5. Join your fellow athletes as they commit to eat ample protein, tons of vegetables, some fruit, and plenty of good fats. Absent from the Paleo Plate? Grains, dairy, legumes, soy, peas, corn, green beans, sugar, honey, maple syrup, agave, artificial sweeteners, sugar alcohols, processed foods and alcohol.
If you’re ready to feel and look better, improve workout performance and recovery, sleep deeper, and potentially eliminate nagging issues like skin problems, “fuzzy” thinking, muscle or joint soreness, bloat, and more, commit to yourself — and the EAD / CFAH Community — by writing your name on the white board under the flag. Then, head over to the EAD / CFAH Athlete Center and review the 30 Day Paleo Challenge materials. Also, check out information posted on the EAD / CFAH Paleo Challenge page from previous challenges; we will also regularly post new info on this page.
For those of you who 80 / 20 Paleo, the 30 Paleo Challenge is a commitment; there will be no “variety” (aka, cheat) days. Participants are encouraged to stick to the “Encouraged” and “Food to Avoid” list scrupulously for the duration of the challenge to gain optimum results.
The EAD / CFAH 30 Day Paleo Challenge is inspired by the work of Dr. Loren Cordain, with generous support from Robb Wolf, Whole9, and input from EAD / CFAH athletes who have completed previous challenges.
Questions? Email email@example.com
This is another in a series of personal reflections penned by Elite Athletic Development / CrossFit Arlington Heights / CrossFit Axis athletes about the mental, physical and emotional changes experienced since joining our health & fitness community. The following reflection was submitted by Laura M, who has trained with us since May, 2010, and seen many a 30 Day Paleo Challenge come and go. Something about the July 2012 Challenge piqued her curiosity, though, and she decided to give the Paleo plate a chance .. with tremendous results. Keep up the great work, Laura — we look forward to your continued success!
To describe what the challenge has been to me, I would simply say this: life changing. I read all of the personal reflections that other people posted from past challenges, and to be honest, I didn’t really think it would end up applying to me in the same seemingly drastic way as it has so many others. Boy was I wrong.
I’m pretty proud of myself for honestly, no b.s., sticking to the 30 Day Paleo Challenge nearly 100 percent. I went on vacation in the middle of the challenge, and my only cheats were a couple of small deserts, a couple of glasses of wine, and a couple of pieces of bread. Otherwise, not a single cheat. I was pretty amazed at myself for that.
As far as the results are concerned, well, they are pretty amazing – and to be honest, unexpected. The most obvious is weight loss. I lost nine pounds in that first 30 days – being less hungry than I think I’ve ever been and working out less than I ever have due to a crazy work schedule. And the beautiful thing is it was nine pounds of fat. The muscle mass is still there. I felt stronger than I have in a long time and look better than I have in a long time.
The second most obvious result was my cardiovascular system. Those who know me know that cardio is by far my biggest weakness. It always has been. I can practice running all summer long and never be able to make it past two miles. Obviously, CrossFit has helped that a bit, but I still never considered myself anywhere near where I should be.
About two weeks in to the challenge, something changed. I went for a run one night and literally went for a solid four miles at a way faster pace than I had ever run before, and didn’t even think twice. It wasn’t really hard. I felt like a friggin’ gazelle! Figuring it was just some kind of fluke, I didn’t really think too much of it. Then I tried it again a couple of nights after. Same thing. I couldn’t believe it. And every run I’ve gone on since then has been like that. I’ve gone from struggling to make two miles at slower than a 10 minute pace to running approximately four miles at at least a nine minute pace comfortably. Every time. No problem. One of these days I’m going to actually time myself on a 5k and see what happens. Actually push it. If I don’t shave at least five minutes off, I will be very surprised.
At the end of the challenge, I attended a CrossFit class, and noticed that I was very obviously able to push myself farther than I ever had before. When I hit the point where I would normally start slowing down or stopping to take a breather, I just kept going. And it wasn’t a mental thing so much. I wasn’t pushing myself harder. I could just feel that point that would normally slow me down but now I didn’t need to slow down. It’s like my brain changed from telling me, “holy crap slow down, you’re going to die” to “yeah, this is getting tough but oh well – it’s no big thing.” It was the weirdest feeling. Coach Josh commented that I was moving a lot better. And I was. For goodness sake, I could fly through a set of 10 burpees without stopping, even at the end of the workout. I’ve never been able to do that. Not even close.
The third thing I noticed was my relationship with food. As many women do, I’ve always had a love/hate relationship with it. On days where I felt like I had eaten like crap, I tended to figure the day had already lost any hope of being a success from a dietary standpoint, and would decide that I may as well enjoy myself and screw it up completely. Yeah, my relationship with food was a mess. And I knew it was. But I figured it would always be that way, because you always want what you can’t have, right? Well, I now know that’s wrong. And I think the solution has been two-fold. First, I no longer count calories – or even think about them for that matter. So, if I’m hungry, I eat. If I’m not, I don’t. That was something I knew going into this I was going to have to trust if I was going to make this work. Which brings me to the second part of this: in learning to control cravings, I’ve allowed my body to re-program itself to actually understand what hunger is. I now know the difference between hunger and a craving. And through this whole thing, I’ve learned to think of cravings as your body’s way of being a bratty kid. And I hate bratty kids. So I’ll be damned if I’m going to let a bratty kid push me around. Thus, cravings aren’t able to control me nearly like they used to. What’s left is hunger. And when I’m hungry, I eat. So, problem solved. I just still can’t believe it was that simple.
The last major thing that I noticed, and I didn’t even notice it until it was pointed out to me as one of the things that this diet could do, is my skin is brighter – especially my face. The circles around my eyes are gone. Given that I just turned 30, it’s nice to be looking better instead of worse!
So, moving forward, yes, this is something I plan to continue, without a doubt. It’s really not much of a burden, and the results are so incredible, I never want to go back to feeling the way I did. Now yes, I will have some cheats, but they will be planned and thoughtful. What’s also helpful is a lot of the food I used to eat doesn’t even sound appealing to me anymore, so it’s really not hard to have Dave sitting next to me eating a pizza and have me eating a steak, avocado, and veggies. I dislike the feeling of being bloated so much now that most of that stuff kind of turns me off. Since the end of the challenge, I had one week where I fell off of the boat 100 percent. It was a hell of a week. But it was easy to get back on, and aside from feeling bloated, I really didn’t have any negative consequences from it (well, the ones I had were from drinking too much…)
Also worth mentioning at this point is the fact that weight loss has continued. I’m now down almost 15 pounds. I’m getting close to having to think about getting some new clothes, because while the things that I used to have to squeeze myself into still fit okay, the things that fit normally now hang on me. But trust me: this is a good problem. I’m just not going to go too gung ho on buying things until I have an idea as to where my size is going to level out.
And the one last cool thing about all of this is that results talk. My sister thought I was just doing some kind of hippie diet when this whole thing started. Then we went on vacation together and she started mimicking how I was eating. She has been very impressed at the results I’ve had, so she started doing 100 percent Paleo. Her results are incredible, too. Although she didn’t have any weight to lose, she can now get a good night’s sleep, her focus is much better, and she’s in a much better mood. My Mom saw these results and is now starting to make her own Paleo bread and whatnot. And now my Dad is starting to get on board with eating Paleo.
Needless to say, I’m pretty excited about what the 30 Day Paleo Challenge has done for me, and I’m excited to see how far the benefits can go …
Contributed by Coach Karen
Paleo Plate composition is colorful, abundant, satisfying, healthy and sans the Western dietary staples of dairy, grains and legumes. Most of the questions we field at the start of our 30 Day Paleo Challenge center on why theses foods are on the “No” list. The good folks at Whole9 posted four easy-to-read articles, or what they call “manifestos”, on why there is no place on the Paleo plate for these foods.
Take a moment to read the manifestos to satisfy your curiosity. Then read them again to prepare yourself for the inevitable barrage of questions from loved ones, friends and co-workers who will grill you on why you’re ignoring conventional wisdom force-fed to us by everyone from the USDA to registered dietitians, popular magazines to Dr. Oz, and your family physician to Grandma. If questions remain after you read the manifestos, or you need reinforcement to deal with the poo-pooers and naysayers, reach out … we’re happy to help!
The EAD / CFAH / CFAX 30 Day Paleo Challenge is back by popular demand. More than 100 people joined us for the January – February challenge, and we’d love to see at least that many athletes on board for the July 5 – August 3 challenge.
Challenge participants agree to build their plates around nutrient-dense veggies, protein (pasture-raised, grass-fed preferred) healthy fats & oils, and a bit of fruit. They also agree to leave behind sugar of any kind (including sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners), processed foods, grains, dairy, legumes and less desirable fats & oils. For those of you who 80 / 20 Paleo, the 30 Paleo Challenge is a commitment; there will be no “variety” (aka, cheat) days. Participants are encouraged to stick to the “Encouraged” and “Food to Avoid” list scrupulously for the duration of the challenge to gain optimum results.
The EAD / CFAH / CFAX 30 Day Paleo Challenge is inspired by the work of Dr. Loren Cordain, with generous support from Robb Wolf and Whole9. We have all the materials you’ll need to get started … just drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to request your set.
If you’re hungry for more information, you might want to check out:
- An Interview with Dr. Cordain (the academic who is the world’s leading expert on Paleolithic diets … this is the guy who brought Paleo into the spotlight decades ago.
- What Is The Paleo Diet?
- Robb Wolf’s Paleo Shopping List.
- A list of Paleo resources created for EAD / CFAH / CFAX by the Arlington Heights Public Library.
- And, be sure to check out — and contribute to – the EAD Test Kitchen, for Paleo recipes created, adapted and taste-tested by our athletes.
Ready to get started? Here’s what you need to do:
- Request & review the EAD / CFAH / CFAX 30 Day Paleo Challenge Resource Kit. Email email@example.com to request your kit.
- Complete the Challenge Self Assessment
- Take “Before” photos — front, rear & profile (you don’t need to share … but you won’t believe how many times people say to me “Gee, I wish I would’ve had a picture of what I looked like before I made this change.”)
- Purge your pantry of all non-Paleo foods
- Shop and fill your ‘fridge & pantry with Paleo-preferred foods
- Plan your menu
- Reconcile that the traditional American breakfast is basically crap. Plan how you’ll start your day without eating a bagel, granola, waffles, etc., or drinking a large glass of OJ or spooning sugar in your coffee or tea
- Tell anyone & everyone you live with and / or share a meal with what you plan to do. Ask for their support.
- Get all your questions answered …we’re happy to help.
- Stay connected to EAD / CFAH / CFAX 30 Day Paleo Challenge participants … we’re in this together!
- Believe that you can do anything for 30 days … truly. Honest. Just get organized and go
Contributed by Karen Stoychoff Inman
So says one participant in a comment representative of feedback submitted via the Winter 2012 30 Day Paleo Challenge pre- & post assessment. More than 100 EAD / CFAH / CFAX athletes committed to eat Paleo January 15 – February 13, with 33 percent of participants providing a written overview of their experience.
Most participants had no idea what to expect during the 30 Day Challenge, and many signed up with great trepidation. “I didn’t know what I was getting into, but I knew I couldn’t keep eating the way I was. I was really scared, but figured I had the support of so many people,” said one participant. “I was skeptical; really skeptical,” says another participant. “But I suspended disbelief because the EAD coaches have never let me down.”
In the end, it was the athletes who never let down, and their individual and collective results prove 30 days sans grains, dairy, sugar, legumes and processed foods can make the difference. Based on a comparison of 24 pre- and post- self assessments, EAD / CFAH / CFAX athletes lost almost 200 pounds, more than 115 inches, and averaged a 6 percent decrease in body fat. One participant lost 20 pounds, while another lost a total of 12 inches. Yet another participant decreased body fat almost 14 percent.
30 Day Paleo Challenge participants report results ranging from aesthetic to emotional to medical. When asked to reflect on their Paleo eating experience, participant comments include:
“The best result of this challenge? I had NO headaches for 30 days. I typically get them 2-3 times a month, and they last for multiple days. I never even looked at the prescription meds that I take for relief.”
“I feel AMAZING! Tighter and leaner. I feel way more confident in my appearance now than I have in a long time. My mood is much more elevated. I’m sleeping better and feeling more rested when I wake.”
“My chronic joint pain is gone. I no longer have cravings. I have much more energy, feel much stronger during WODs and feel better about my body.”
“No asthma! Wow!”
“Why didn’t I do this sooner?”
“My self-esteem has jumped. I feel healthy and strong.”
“This is just the beginning for me …”
All but a handful of participants completed the 30 Day Paleo Challenge, and those who didn’t still acknowledge that they gained new perspective on eating clean. “I have not been successful with the 30 Day Paleo Challenge, but I’ve been trying to eat ‘mostly Paleo’. I had a physical last week and my blood work has significantly improved … that was just the motivation I needed to get myself back on track,” said one athlete. “I started (the 30 Day Paleo Challenge) with the best intentions, but I just didn’t stick with it. I’m going to try again … everyone who did go the full 30 days seems so pleased with their results,” said another athlete.
Overall, responding participants say the 30 Day Paleo Challenge was a good experience, and better than 95 percent plan to stay Paleo or Paleo-”ish” going forward.
“I plan to continue eating Paleo at least 80 percent of the time for the rest of my life.”
“I feel stronger and push myself further and harder during WODs thanks to eating this way.”
“I actually shudder at the thought of going back to my old carb-junkie habits. I’m so pleased and excited about my results.”
“I can’t believe 30 days passed so quickly! I’m really happy I tried this … I’m so much more conscious of what I’m eating and buying … my seven year-old daughter (helps) me read labels.”
“My life is forever changed. Thanks, EAD!”
Thanks to EAD / CFAH / CFAX athlete Ali D for passing along this handy-dandy visual on cooking oils. At the request of the chart originator, we’ve removed the full-size chart and replaced it with a link to the host site. Click on the tiny image below for access to the full-size chart.
Find something of nutritional interest? Let us know!
This is the first in a series of personal reflections penned by Elite Athletic Development / CrossFit Arlington Heights / CrossFit Axis athletes about the mental, physical and emotional changes experienced since joining our health & fitness community. Have a story you’d like to share? Email your reflection to firstname.lastname@example.org
Amy Pi was inspired to drop us an email after jotting down her thoughts on the 30 Day Paleo Challenge, which concludes February 13 at midnight. If you’ve ever trained with Amy, you know that she’s focused, committed and loves lifting heavy. Her results — thanks to a complete lifestyle change — are dramatic, although far from overnight; Amy’s transformation has been two years in the making. Keep up the great work, Amy, and thanks for sharing your reflection with us. We’re proud of you!
I celebrated my second anniversary with EAD in January, and looking back, I’m amazed at how much has changed since those early days.
Those first workouts seemed so daunting and exhausting, and the warm-ups absolutely brutal. Who would have known that I would one day consider 70 – 90# Deadlifts, 60 Burpees, and 60 – 30#KB swings a good workout?
I remember the day I learned Josh would be our coach. Who would have known that the person that I so vehemently did NOT want to be our group’s leader would become such a trusted, inspiring and supportive person on my journey?
I remember the first time there was a barbell in a workout, and how I felt when the initial fear of picking it up turned to pure power and confidence. Who would have known that I LOVE to lift heavy?
I remember being petrified about my first Saturday morning class, and the “fit guy” who said I was motivating because I kept going the whole time and stayed rep for rep with him. Who would have known that I would be the one convincing women friends to not be intimidated by the guys during a WOD?
I remember joking about eating pebbles and berries as part of the Paleo diet and fighting the idea of leaving behind pasta and cheese. Who would have foreseen that my own foray into and success with Paleo would get others to try it?
I remember being so intimidated and embarrassed to have to struggle in front of people. Who would have known that I would feel such a sense of challenge and welcome that slight sensation of fear when reading about tomorrow’s WOD?
People always ask me, “How much weight have you lost?” And while I definitely do care about the shift of the number on the scale, it has become so much more than that. The measure of success is more about what I have gained. The community of supportive people, the confidence that I can do things I thought were once impossible, and the control over how to fuel my body to work and play the way I want are priceless. While I am far from being finished with this journey, I am so pleased with the path so far, and I am ever so thankful that I had EAD as my vehicle to get this far. Thank you for seeing in me that which I was unable to see. Thank you for helping a more healthy and empowered me come into being.
I am thankful for the guidance, tough love, encouragement, celebratory spirit and pride that the EAD performance coaches have for us. Thank you for all the work you do and Happy Anniversary!
The 30 Day Paleo Challenge concludes at midnight, Monday, Feb. 13. After serving up 30 days of thorough planning and thoughtful food choices, how will you build your first challenge-free plate Tuesday, Feb. 14? Dare I suggest that your splash down meal should be no different than those you’ve consumed since January 15?
I’ve received dozens of emails, posts and phone calls marveling at the changes — some subtle, many dramatic — logged since eating Paleo. Yet temptation lurks, and the negotiation on how to eat going forward begins.
Splash Down … Don’t Drown, Part 1. Thirty days of clean eating is a great start, but it’s not really enough. Consider how long you’ve unconsciously consumed calories, with little regard to how the food was chemically treated, processed and handled before it hit your plate. For most of us, we’ve lived far longer with mindless versus mindful eating.
Pre-Splash Down Checklist. Take stock of how good you feel after 30 days. Grab a piece of paper and a pen, take five minutes and write down everything that comes to mind about how you feel, the comments people have made, what was easy, what was challenging, what surprised you, the compliments you’ve received, and more. Then take another five minutes and really read the list. Aloud. Let it wash over you. And celebrate what you’ve accomplished.
The Paperwork. Be sure to take time to complete the Post-Paleo Challenge Questionnaire, break out the scale for the first time in 30 days (as if I needed to remind you to do that!), take your measurements, and snap the post-challege photo. Please submit your Pre- & Post-Paleo Challenge Questionnaire so I can complete an analysis of the changes experienced by the 100-plus folks who committed to the challenge. Didn’t make it the full 30 days? That’s okay … submit the paperwork anyway, along with a note as to why you opted out.
Splash Down … Don’t Drown, Part 2. Some people will remain steadfast Paleo eaters post-challenge. The very thought of adding grains & legumes, dairy, startchy veg, sugars and processed foods invokes an involuntary shudder, and perhaps a bit of bile. Some of you will jump off the Paleo wagon entirely and chalk this up to another life experience. Some of you will opt to eat Paleo 80 percent of the time, and reserve 20 percent for planned, mindful variety. There is no right answer for everyone, but you owe it to yourself to take time to make a conscious choice about how you will eat going forward. The only wrong answer is to fall back into a pattern of mindless eating.
Pick One. As tempting as it may be, don’t hit the breakfast or lunch buffet February 14. Many of you have shared with me near miraculous health improvements since eating Paleo. If you load up your plate with grains, legumes, dairy, sugars & processed foods, you’ll never know which foods — if any — trigger aches & pains, belly bloat, sinus congestion, embarrassing gas attacks, constipation, diarrhea, headaches, “brain fog”, mean streaks / mood swings, and more. If you plan to go 80 / 20, pick a food group — grains, legumes or dairy (no, sugar and processed foods are not a food group!) — to add back into your diet. Add one food group per week and pay close attention to how your body — and those around you — react. Did you need to unbutton your pants after eating the plate of pasta? Is your nose stuffy after drinking coffee with cream? Did anyone suggest you were a bit moody? Is your sleep suddenly restless? Do you feel sluggish during training? Many of us have undiagnosed food intolerances. The absence of symptoms during the past 27 days is a good clue that you need to have a measured approach to how you eat going forward.
Without Question. Regardless if you plan to stay hardcore or eat Paleo 80/20, continue to: eat breakfast; fuel your training with appropriately timed pre- and post-WOD food choices; select grassfed beef, free-range poultry, wild caught seafood; shop the perimeter or the grocery store; choose nutrient-dense, dark leafy greens; choose nutritional multi-taskers; read labels; research nutritional information when you eat out; call off ingredients at restaurants; and plan meals with vigor & intent. Overall, continue to be scrupulous about what you put in your body.
No. Never. Nada. Now & Forever. There is no place on your plate going forward for the following foods: Diet sodas, non-nutritive / artificial sweeteners, high-fructose corn syrup, foods with added sugars, partially or fully hydrogenated fats & oils, refined grains, processed foods, drive through / fast foods, ground & composite meats (like sausage) made from unknown / factory sources, packaged foods with ingredients you can’t pronounce or have no idea of their purpose, artificial preservatives & colors, glutamates, or any food that makes you feel physically icky, but may fill a temporary emotional need.
Today’s Question: After eating Paleo for the past 30 days, what words / phrases best describe how you feel, and what words / phrase have you most frequently heard from those closest to you?
We’ve bested the half-way mark of the EAD / CFAH / CFAX 30 Day Paleo Challenge and reports from the field continue to be positive, and we have new people joining in weekly. Keep up the dedicated effort, everyone!
Lots of questions over the past day or so on Omega 3 & Omega 6 fatty acids. The bottom line on this topic is that the typical Western plate is buckling under the weight of an imbalance between these two essential fatty acids, and it takes conscious effort to regain balance.
Our bodies require both Omega 3 & Omega 6 fatty acids, just in a different ratio than most people consume. Some studies suggest that many Americans consume a ratio of 10-20:1 of Omega 6s to 3s … far less desirable than the 1-4:1 ratio many believe supports optimum health.
If you’re curious as to how your current plate composition stacks up, log your food for three days at PaleoTrack, a free food journal for the Paleo afficienado; one of the features is an Omega fatty acid calculator. Also reference the Omega 3 & Omega 6 Fatty Acids Snapshot we prepared for your reference.
Today’s Question: What is the best thing someone in your life has done to support you since you started the 30 Day Paleo Challenge?
Food For Thought: We All Have Choice. Eat For Your Mitochondria.
Contributed by Coach Karen
Five days in to the EAD / CFAH / CFAX 30 Day Paleo Challenge and you’re starting to feel the benefits of eating green & clean. These changes cement your commitment, yet may leave family, friends and co-workers feeling on shaky ground.
According to Leighton Clark, LCSW, Creative Transitions, Ltd., it takes a committed individual approximately 33 – 66 days to integrate a new habit into a long-lasting reality. But it takes those around you more than three months to accept the changes, a gap which frequently rattles the foundation of relationships.
“Most people don’t consciously sabotage the change efforts of others. Sometimes, however, the ripple effect of change — say one person eating Paleo and the other a traditional diet — creates discomfort, and may illicit subconscious actions that resist the new direction,” said Clark. Bottom line: Just because you’re ready to make the jump doesn’t mean that those around you are ready for the impact your change may have on them.
Sabotage may be subtle, say passing the popcorn at the movie theater out of habit; or, it could be as brash as bringing your favorite food into the house. Either way, it’s something you need to address.
David L. Katz, MD, MPH, director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center encourages people to “spit it out” and remind loved ones that their support and assistance is appreciated and important to the change effort. For those who persist in offering food, Katz suggests the following response: “It looks great. Maybe later.” Then make sure later never comes.
Clark and Katz recommend those seeking change connect with like-mind people.
“The power and momentum of sharing and working toward a goal with others contributes significantly to long-term success,” said Clark … a fact not lost on the more than 100 people committed to the EAD / CFAH / CFAX 30 Day Paleo Challenge. “Support is available from many sources. If a loved one isn’t ready to offer needed encouragement, reach out to those who are.”
Today’s Question: How do you deal with people who overtly or covertly try and sabotage your Paleo Plate?
Food For Thought: Top Nine Challenges of Being Paleo and What to do About Them?
Contributed by Coach Karen
Four days in to the EAD / CFAH / CFAX Paleo Challenge and the sweet — or salty, savory, crunchy or carbonated — siren song of your favorite non-Paleo foods sounds. And the negotiation begins. “The burger is grassfed, and it’s just a wee bit of ketchup.” “The challenge my friend is doing allows it.” “I don’t want to seem high maintenance at my business lunch.” “I can’t live another moment without my _________.” The truth is you can make it much longer than 30 days without your non-Paleo “go to” foods, whether those foods satisfy a behavioral, physical or emotional craving.
Many of us travel a path of willful ignorance when it comes to food choices; we aim for the nutritional potholes instead of wisely navigating around them. The reasons we fail to stay right at the fork in the road are many, and have little to do with lack of awareness or information. Recent research suggests that when presented with irrefutable facts, many people simply disregard them because it is incongruous to what they want to believe. For those of you with little ones in your life, that sure sounds a lot like trying to talk rationally to a toddler laser-focused on adding Froot Loops to the grocery cart.
We can chart a new course. It is not our ancestral history or destiny to eat foods counter to our health. Consider the following strategies to help steer clear of temptation over the next 30 days.
- Motivating Statements. Jot down a few sentences about why you want to eat healthier. How do you envision feeling? What excites you? What will be different? Post the statements in the kitchen, on the car visor, at work, carry a copy with you, share a copy with your Network of Excellence, write them on your forearm. Tempted? Read your motivating statements — aloud — multiple times. Then move on, leaving the temptation behind.
- Plan to Succeed. Don’t let past attempts define future achievement. Recognize potential barriers and have a plan to navigate them. Spend a few minutes brainstorming the barriers you might encounter over the next 30 days — business travel, Super Bowl Sunday, entertaining, client meals, a spouse who unintentionally (or intentionally, but that’s another post!) sabotages you. Don’t assume that you can manage the unexpected. Plan for it with gusto.
- Leverage the Community. Close to 100 people are on board for the EAD / CFAH / CFAX 30 Day Paleo Challenge. That’s sure to generate an amazing level of energy, focus, determination, commitment, support, reinforcement, enthusiasm, recipe ideas and more. Reach out for encouragement … it will be there.
Today’s Question:What helps you stave off temptation?
Food For Thought: ABC Nightline’s Host Life Altering Assignment.
Contributed by Coach Karen
One of the phrases oft-repeated during my years working in, and consulting for, large corporations was You don’t know what you don’t know. When it comes to the EAD / CFAH / CFAX 30 Day Paleo Challenge, a better turn of that phrase is You only know what you know.
The 30 Day Challenge guidelines, based on the ground-breaking research of Loren Cordain, and packaged in a consumer-friendly way by Robb Wolf and former CrossFit affiliate owners Melissa & Dallas Hartwig (aka, Whole9), are strict to help redefine what you know about how your body responds to the food choices you make.
Eating for many people is rote behavior. I’m no psychic, but give me a three-day food log and I can generally predict your longer term eating pattern. An entrenched eating pattern yields a steady state body reaction; how you feel is how you feel; it’s your normal; it’s what you know. One of the reasons we ask you to complete the Pre-Challenge Questionnaire is to put a set of metrics around how you feel, and it’s always interesting to see how those metrics change against the Post-Challenge Questionnaire.
Building a strict Paleo plate for 30 days is designed to break the routine, and help you redefine what you know about how your body responds to what you eat. Your body requires time to recalibrate, and your brain demands time to process and provide feedback. Start and stick with a clean plate for the next 30 days and you will be well on your way to defining an entirely new you.
Today’s Question: The 30 Day Paleo Challenge — Easier than you expected?
Food For Thought: Grandma’s Wheat It Ain’t.
A few folks have asked why the EAD / CFAH / CFAX 30 Day Paleo Challenge encourages you to stash the scale for the duration of the challenge.The simple answer is that weight does not determine size or body composition.
Consider a standard-issue hard ball and an inflatable beach ball. Both tip the scale at just about four ounces, but one is fluffy, squishy and big, while the other is compact, taut and small. Which set of adjectives would you prefer describe your body type?
Body circumference measurements and body composition (percent body fat vs. lean muscle mass) are the preferred way to track progress. While those changes won’t happen overnight — it takes several weeks to lose inches and decrease body fat — what the scale reads could for a variety of reasons. And that daily fluctuation is bound to make you nutso crazy, and could contribute to emotional eating.
Another reason we ask you to ditch the scale is that many folks have a tendency to fixate on some arbitrary number. The number could be what you weighed in high school, or when you met your spouse, or maybe the summer at the beach when you left eyeballs bulging and tongues dragging. The number on the scale shouldn’t define success; how you look and feel, and how well you perform as you live your life should. Truly, if you looked great in (and out) of clothes, would you really care what the scale read? Doubtful.
Take this picture, for instance. Same woman, photos captured eight months apart. She weighs 131 pounds in one shot and 142 pounds in the other. Which picture is which? Think she cares that the scale reads 11 pounds heavier? Please. She’s the compact, taut hardball.
So take your measurements and hop on that scale one last time until February 14.
Today’s Question: What single food item do you anticipate that you’ll miss the most over the next 30 days and why?
Today’s Resource: Get Out of Good Food Jail. Tips and Tricks From Top Paleo Chefs.
Welcome to the first day of the EAD / CFAH / CFAX 30 Day Paleo Challenge. You are in great company for the challenge: Almost 90 people (… and counting!) have committed to build their plate January 15 – February 13 around nutrient-dense veggies, protein (pasture-raised, grass-fed preferred) healthy fats & oils, and a bit of fruit. They also agree to leave behind sugar of any kind (including sugar alcohols and artificial sweeteners), processed foods, grains, dairy, legumes and less desirable fats & oils.
- Complete the Challenge Self Assessment
- Take “Before” photos — front, rear & profile (you don’t need to share … but you won’t believe how many times people say to me “Gee, I wish I would’ve had a picture of what I looked like before I made this change.”)
- Plan your menu for the week
- Remind anyone & everyone you live with and / or share a meal with that you appreciate their support
Today’s Question: What are you most looking forward to about your 30 Day Paleo Challenge experience?
Check out the 30 Day Paleo Challenge Commitment Board at Elite Athletic Development North – CrossFit Arlington Heights. See your name yet? If not, there’s still time to join the more than 50 people who have already received the 30 Day Paleo Challenge materials and are counting down to Sunday, Jan. 15.
Still not sure what eating Paleo is all about? Take a gaze at this Is It Paleo? flowchart courtesy of http://yfrog.com/z/kecf9ljj
You’ve seen the positive changes eating Paleo — even for just 30 days — has made for athletes throughout the EAD / CFAH /CFAX Community. Start 2012 with a clean plate. Sign up for the Winter 2012 30 Day Paleo Challenge. Etch your name on the virtual wall today. Email email@example.com