Guest Post: The Paleo Lifestyle
I’m a strong believer that each body has different needs and requirements. From allergies and intolerances, to dietary preferences, to work and sleep habits. Both our lives and our bodies dictate how we should fuel ourselves, and listening to your body is something that you need to learn to do. And that’s why I believe in trying different diets. Not diets as in crash diets – diets as in lifestyle changes that allow you to experience different ways of eating, that give you the opportunity to discover the best and healthiest lifestyle for yourself.
Personally I’ve tried a number of different diets and excluded various foods over the years, from high raw to mostly vegan to gluten-free. I want to feel my best every day – I want to sleep well, wake up rested & not need caffeine to open my eyes, have energy throughout the day, not suffer from headaches, and be alert & able to concentrate. And believe me when I say that it can be a long journey of trial and error to determine what foods will give you all of that.
Today I’m here to introduce Kyle Lawlor, one of the co-authors of the Tumblr blog Eat. Drink. Paleo – Two foodies who fell in love and are now transitioning to a Paleo lifestyle. If you look up “Paleo Diet” in wikipedia or check out the Paleo Diet website you can get a full list of do’s and don’ts, what you can and can’t eat, and why the Paleo supporters think that their lifestyle is the best choice out there. But what those websites won’t/can’t/don’t tell you is how this lifestyle will make you feel, how hard the transition is, what the noticeable benefits and downsides are, and how you will feel on a daily basis.
But Kyle can.
This is his story of discovering Paleo eating, making the transition, joining CrossFit, and how those choices have affected his daily life and outlook:
My journey to a healthy paleo lifestyle has taken far longer than I wish it would. I look back and kick myself for not doing this sooner but as is constant with me, I have to do everything in my own time or I will never stick to anything. I came across the Paleo Lifestyle when I joined American River CrossFit in July 2011. At the time I weighed 280lbs and I still (unfortunately) stand only 5’8 ½”. I was out of shape. I was constantly out of breath from even the simplest of tasks. I didn’t sleep well. I snored like a band saw. And worst of all, I looked terrible! When I started at CrossFit it was terrible. My body hadn’t felt so sore since JV Spring Training for football. My quads hurt, my back was tight, and my shoulders felt like they would drop off at any moment. The funny thing is that at first, a lot of what I was doing in CrossFit was just moving myself. My first month involved very little weight training, except for my own 280lbs. But I stuck with it and kept going. Soon I started seeing improvements. My clothes began fitting better and the pain I felt after workouts transitioned into soreness. The only problem was that my gut didn’t go anywhere and the scale hadn’t changed much. The reason was a simple one, one that I never really shared with neither my trainers at the Box nor my girlfriend, Rochelle. Every night after attending the 6pm class at ARCFIT and working my ass off I would stop at Wendy’s or Taco Bell on my way home and demolish a couple bucks worth of fake food before pulling into my drive way. THEN I would go inside and eat the dinner Rochelle would have prepared for us. To understand why I did this we need to take a quick trip down memory lane.
Fast forward to February 2012! I read The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf and it changes my life. I had been living a 20% Paleo lifestyle at best while trying to work my ass off at CrossFit. Unfortunately, as we are fond of saying at ARCFIT “you can’t out train a shit diet”. It is so incredibly true! Somehow I expected that if I worked out an hour a day twice a week that gave me permission to eat whatever the hell I wanted. February was a great month for me because it was the start of a lot of life changes for me. The first was the 30 day Paleo challenge Rochelle and I began. We cut out all the grain, all the dairy, all the sugar and all the legumes. And at first it was awesome! NOT! It sucked! But, after the first week and a half all the cravings were gone. Then the amazing things started happening. I began feeling better. I was sleeping the whole night through with much less snoring then before (much to Rochelle’s delight), my pants started literally falling off of me because they were too big, and not to get gross but my bowel movements were noticeably healthier and less frequent than I was accustomed. All in all, my body was beginning to heal the wrongs I had done to it for 24 years.
What I have come to realize over the last year, specifically in the last 4 months, is that through taking care of myself I have become a happier person. 6 months ago, someone who knew me well might consider me a good friend but hateful of just about everyone else on the planet, and that’s putting it mildly. To be plain, I had been unhappy with my life for the past few years, and despite being moderately intelligent I could not see that the problem was staring back at me every time I went to McDonald’s for breakfast, Jack in the Box for lunch and perhaps Taco Bell for dinner. These foods had a hold on me. If I’m honest, I’d say they still do. While I rarely, if ever, crave some kind of fake burger from a fast food joint, I know that if I succumb to weakness at any time and have one I will be hooked once again.
When Rochelle and I began the 30 day Challenge in February, I didn’t think it would stick. I figured I would find someway of returning to old habits. However, since we decided to eat only the foods listed in the 30 Day sample menus I was stuck. I would actually have to follow the rules on this one and see where I could go.
My life is much different now. I do my best to go to the gym 5 days a week and I don’t drink as often or as much as I used to. I wake up at 6:30am, which is early when you consider the fact that I don’t have to be at work until 10am every day. I look at the WOD (Workout Of the Day in CrossFit speak), weigh myself, prepare myself to leave the house and head to the gym for the 7am class. When I get to the gym I feel like hell. My body and mind haven’t quite adjusted to being upright yet, there’s usually loud music on and in a couple of minutes someone I consider a friend is going to tell me to go run around the building, row 1000 meters, do pushups, or wall balls, or air squats, double-unders, burpees, and what the hell go run around the building again. At that point I’m warmed up. My morning headache is gone, my back has loosened up, and my hips are just about opened to where I need them to be in order to do whatever is planned for the day. Depending on the program I’m on there will be skill work before the WOD (ie pull ups or muscle ups) or weight lifting and then the WOD. I do my best on skill work and WODs, sometimes do a second WOD, foam roll, then drive home. The maximum amount of time I am ever at the gym is 2 hours, and those are days when I’m bored and Rochelle hasn’t given me a honey do list while I’m off on a weekday.
Time for some real honesty. Life happens, accept you may eat off diet and adjust accordingly (ie work your ass off the rest of the week) Sometimes you’re at your mom’s place and she’s making spaghetti and meatballs. You clean the plate and ask for seconds. Also, sometimes you’re in a hurry and forget your lunch. Does that mean you get to hit up McDonald’s for a Big Mac? NO! Think smarter. Is there a Thai restaurant near your work? If so, do what Rochelle does when she forgets lunch, call them up, order a red curry with beef, no rice, go back to your desk and eat something delicious and most likely entirely paleo. No Thai place? Craving fake Mexican food? Chipotle. I know, it is all that is wrong with this country but sometimes you want to eat fake Mexican food. A burrito bowl with no rice and beans will do the trick. Smile and ask politely for the person behind the counter to hook you up on peppers and onions. You like real Mexican food? Fine, hit up that taqueria by your work and grab a half pound of carnitas with a side of guac. No, you don’t need to order the rice, beans or tortillas! And finally, what about a good old American hamburger? All I can say God bless In N Out and Habit burger for lettuce wrapping their burgers, they can be a life saver! Have I done all these things? Yep! Am I proud of it? Not really, but I’m still going to eat and live my life. The difference is now when I eat things that are absolutely terrible for me, my mentality is different. Gone are the days when pasta made me think wistful thoughts of Rome. Now all I can think about is how much I just poisoned my body and how soon I can get it out of me. Funny how much things can change in 4 months.
My girlfriend and I constantly talk about how different my life has become in the last 4 months, none of it negative, and the one thing we always point out is that it started with my nutrition. When I got serious my life got better. Now I don’t usually like to look to the divine in such moments, but the timing sure is coincidental.
Please note that this is a shortened version of Kyle’s article, you can see the unabridged version here which includes great recipes and more details about Paleo eating.
Please note that neither Kyle nor I are a doctor, dietitian, or nutritionist. I recommend speaking with a professional prior to making any dramatic changes to your lifestyle, diet, or exercise regime to ensure that any changes you make are done safely.
Links You’ll Love
Are you as sick of skinny jeans as I am these days? I love the silhouette of a slim pant with a tunic, oversized sweater or cropped jacket on top, but the worn-to-death trend of skinny jeans is making me mad! The Stylist is here to help though, with 7 Alternatives to Skinny Blue Jeans.
Looks like I’m not the only one in awe of Poppy Delevingne’s personal style, see FabSugar’s One To Watch: Poppy Delevingne’s Fun, Fearless Style Has Us Hooked, Hello!’s Fashion Week favourite Poppy shows off her street savvy or Harper’s Bazaar – BAZAAR Boards: Poppy’s Chic Coat Tricks.
Ever wondered just how Chanel does it? Take a look at Lucky Magazine’s Watch the Chanel Team Make a Little Black Jacket. Or if you’re more interested in the man behind Chanel check out the Harper’s Bazaar piece My List: Karl Lagerfeld In 24 Hours. What did I learn?
Ready for Spring shopping? Watch Prada’s new “Real Fantasies” video lookbook staring Jessica Stam, Ginta Lapina, and Lindsey Wixson or H&M’s Spring 2012 campaign featuring the beautiful Sasha Pivovarova, Natasha Poly, Isabeli Fontana, and Anais Mali.
March is National Nutrition Month so take a look at some great articles that will give you new perspective on what eating healthy means to you:
- FitSugar’s A Daily Look at How Much Fat, Sugar & Salt You Should Be Eating
- Robb Wolf’s To Eat or Not to Eat, That is the Question on intermittent fasting and meal frequency
- Mark’s Daily Apple’s How Fasting Aids Weight Loss
Need some motivation to get you moving? Literally? Check out Holly Would If She Could’s 5 Jedi Mind Tricks For Kickstarting A New Fitness Routine.
Smoothies are a great way to pack protein and nutrients into your breakfast and start your day right – see my Smoothie Love post for my favorite smoothie recipes and a breakdown on some of the great, healthy ingredients you can add. If you’re not a fan of bananas and think that limits your smoothie choices, think again! Check out Gena from Choosing Raw’s Avocado and Berry Smoothie: Banana-less Smoothie Take I. Need more ideas or inspiration? Read FitSugar’s Green Juice & Smoothie Recipes and Vega creator Brendan Brazier’s Smoothiology 101: Saving the Planet 1 Smoothie at a Time.
The Huffington Post’s 8 Ways To Become An Optimist and Marc and Angel Hack Life’s 30 Things To Start Doing For Yourself both seem to support my personal decision to Be Positive this year. I’ve also been trying to read and/or participate in Polish My Crown’s Thankful Thursdays. Do you think positivity and optimism can improve your enjoyment of life?
Links You’ll Love
Need some good reading materials? Here are two healthy & nutrition related pieces to check out: Is Fructose Being Blamed Unfairly For The Obesity Epidemic from Science Daily and Dr. Terry Wahl’s video – Minding Your Mitochondria, about the unparalleled benefits of following a Hunter/Gatherer diet.
How to Fall In Love With Healthy Living from the amazing & hilarious Rachel Wilkerson – her latest article for Shape Magazine.
Interested in probiotics but not sure where to start? Here are a few pieces that you can read to help educate yourself: FitSugar’s The Pros of Probiotics and Choosing Raw’s Probiotics: To Take or Not To Take.
If you’re beginning a new workout regime or interested in really focusing your energy in order to get the best results possible at the gym than the word for you is INTERVAL. Intervals, Tabata & HIIT are the most effective ways to drop weight and build muscle through cardio. Here are some good basics to get you started:
- The Fitnessista – Tabata Training Intervals & Focus On: Tabata Training (scroll below the recipes)
- Erin Stern – Star Jumps
- Interval Training – Tabata Training : The Fastest Way to Fitness & Fat Loss
- Lean Gains– Intermittent Training & Stubborn Body Fat
- Jeanette Jenkins – Fat Blasting 10-Minute Workout
If you haven’t seen Garance Dore’s hysterical Fashion Week diaries they’re a MUST: Pardon My French Part I, Pardon My French Part II & Pardon My French Part III. Gorgeous shots from the shows, backstage and the parties & events, all narrated by . Too cute.
Spring staple to get your hands on? The shirtdress! The Stylist’s latest recurring series is called Lessons For A Modern-Day Lady and their most recent piece is titled: How To Wear A Shirtdress.
Fun boots were all over the runways for Spring, what version are you going to live in? Modelinia has models loving their brown, low heeled ankle boots, FabSugar has the How To on wearing Winter boots with breezy Spring looks, The Stylist shows chic celebrities in Rain Boots or you can try combat boots a la Lisbeth Salander from The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. What is the right style for you?
In the mood for some grown up arts & crafts? Check out FabSugar’s DIY: Make A Sequin-Collar Top video, Design Sponge’s DIY Project: Leather Lunch Tote or the great DIY: Beaded Collar Blouse post from Moda, Moda that found when I was working on the Freckles In April 10 Day Style Challenge.
Links You’ll Love
Are you a fan of quinoa? Here are some great recipes to try out if you’d like some new & creative way to enjoy this protein-rich pseudo-cereal:
- The Hungry Hungry Hippie’s Quinoa Quiche
- Pure 2 Raw’s Baked Cheezy Quinoa Casserole
- Choosing Raw’s Black Bean & Quinoa Salad w/ Cumin Dressing
- The Wannabe Chef’s Quinoa Cakes
18 Tips for Improving Food Disciplinefrom The Primal Parent, Jillian Michaels shares her favorite snacks with Fitness Magazine, what vitamins do you really need to take vs what nutrients you should be getting in your food from health.com and an exclusive interview with Jesse Brune from FitCeleb.
Would you like to learn more about some of the supplements out there? Gena at Choosing Raw can educate you on the benefits of Chlorella and Martin Berkhan has the low down on Fish Oil supplements.
Personally I like celebrity trainer David Kirsch’s no-nonsense approach to staying healthy, he doesn’t mince words – to lose weight and get in shape there’s nothing you can do other than eat healthy and workout. No short cuts. Here’s his Lazy Girl’s Guide to Getting Fit.
Do you love the retro fashion of Mad Men? Did you adore Banana Republic’s Mad Men inspired capsule collection? You’re in luck because Banana Republic has announced that their second collection with hit stores and online in March!
Still shopping for the perfect dress for your Valentine’s Day date? The Budget Fashionista has narrowed down their five favorite dresses from Piperlime under $50 and WhoWhatWear has all the best heart-printed clothes and accessories for you here.
Now that Jason Wu has virtually sold out at Target the only thing that we can do is start getting excited that Marni for H&M will hit on March 8th.
Are you expecting and not sure how to stay stylish and cope with your changing body? Alessandra Ambrosio walked the runway at Sao Paulo while 5 months pregnant, proving that pregnancy doesn’t have to mean shapeless dresses and sweats! FabSugar posted great pictures of Kristin Cavallari in flowy button-down top with stretchy pants. Don’t want to wear sky-high heels through your pregnancy like Rachel Zoe & Victoria Beckham did, but want to keep it fashionable? Try riding boots a la The DayBook.