Scott and I are in our mid 30’s. We both work full time and are parents to 4 children ranging in age of a few months to 13 years. We are newbie crossfitters and have taken on the Paleo Challenge our gym has thrown down as a way to jump start our weight loss and really get control of our lives.
For us crossfit isn’t just about being stronger, faster – etc… we both needed to make some major lifestyle changes or we will just pass down our bad habits to our children. We want our children to be able to say – we ate well and we were active as a family hoping they will pass that down for generations to come! I will be honest – this wasn’t my idea! I wanted nothing to do with it after the birth of our last child. The changes it was making in Scott were so inspiring – I knew I had to check it out.
The modern paleo caveman/woman from the start is a hard pill to swallow. Things like certain dairy products and grains/pasta can be hard to give up. The first thing you want to say is … “Oh no I’m not giving up my <insert here>”. Fact is… it’s that <insert here> got you wherever you are in the first place!
Next argument you may have is “I don’t have time to prepare all this”. Doing this challenge is my way to debunk this! Being a full time working mom to 4 children is no easy task. One of our children is considered special needs. We have an infant. In addition to all of this I am a manager at my job and am on call 24 hours a day. Scott works more than an hour away from our home and has the commute of dead time in which he cannot workout, help at home or prepare for any challenge. Yet we are doing it and will complete it successfully.
Continuing with “I don’t have time” you may say “but I have all these events coming up!” During this Challenge Scott and I will have mother’s day, his birthday, our oldest son’s birthday, the oldest son’s birthday party my monthly cooking club gathering and bunco night, our wedding anniversary and Memorial Day to encounter. This can be overcome. Eat before you go or choose items to prepare that will not tempt you but still be yummy!
Final argument is cost… most Paleo experts will state you must use grass fed meats. While that is great if you can afford it… don’t stress. If you have a tight budget – work with what you have. We can’t expect that within our family of 6 that we can have a grocery bill of over $1k a month. So how do we buy all this meat? We take advantage of every buy 1 get 2 free or buy 1 get 1 free offer out there. Farmers Markets are great for produce as well as just paying attention to your grocery flyers. Only buy what is on sale and nothing more! It isn’t necessary to shop at the all natural food stores; but it does help with options.
So how do we do it? This document will detail our tips and our best advice we can possibly offer. Remember we are not doctors, dieticians or anything fancy like that! We are just everyday people trying to make sense of the Paleo diet in our life.
Just some quick tips:
#1 Don’t shop in the middle of the grocery store!
#2 Read labels – if you can’t pronounce it… then you probably shouldn’t eat it
#3 Sugar, artificial sugar/sweetener = BAD! Just say no. Did you know that McDonald’s adds sweetener to their salad mix? It’s everywhere!
#4 Be wary of anything that you do not cook yourself! This includes the grocery store deli! You’d think that chicken they roast for you is ok? Well how do you think they make it taste and look so good? MSG of course! MSG is a flavor enhancer and can also give poultry a nice glow once cooked. Monosodium glutamate does that even sound yummy?
#5 COOK AHEAD! It’s too easy to say; awwww I didn’t have time to make this or that – so I’ll just eat the normal crap I can grab anywhere. Don’t do it!
#6 Cook easy stuff or find ways to cook easier. I’m a HUGE Pampered Chef nut. They have some items that can really cut my time down in the kitchen. One is their deep covered baker. It will cook a juicy pork loin in less than 10 minutes! My 13 year old can cook dinner with this! The main thing is just keep your recipes simple. If you need more than 8-10 ingredients – it just isn’t worth it. Most things can be fabulous in fewer than 5 ingredients. Garlic is your friend 🙂
#7 Have a backup plan! Crap happens… Sometimes you can’t pack your lunch or say your power went out… know of at least 2-3 meals you can just pick up if need be. I’ll detail those later.
#8 Plan for sleep; your body will need time to recover and there is a chemical process that happens when you sleep to allow for your body to properly loose weight. I’m not a scientist or a diet guru; so I won’t go into the details of it… but SLEEP is important! 8 hours should be your minimum… not your goal.
#9 Don’t forget to work out! While Diet can be 90% of weight loss and over all health; exercise is important to keep the machine moving! With our challenge; attendance counts. Make sure if you do not belong to a gym you are giving it your all with some sort of activity for around 20-30 minutes each day. Raising a spoon of ice cream from the bucket to your mouth DOES NOT COUNT!
#10 Don’t go to the grocery store hungry; or when they are baking yummy things that are full of the stuff you can’t have.
#11 Fall off the wagon? Don’t wait till the next day to get back on – OR – give up all together. Just pick it back up with the next thing you put in your mouth.
#12 Read the book, Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf – don’t believe everything you read on the internet. Make sure you are well versed in what is “allowed” and what is NOT allowed.
Don’t over do it… sometimes too much preparation can backfire on you when you are too worried about tomorrow and not living today.
Weeks before the challenge we were reading the Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf. We also began to search several websites although many have varied Paleo diets; be wary of those. If they are allowing processed stuff… THAT IS NOT PALEO!
1 week before the challenge; began to make a list of recipes that sounded interesting to us and would work with our likes for our family. We also cross checked those recipes for ease of transport with regard to our lunches. Continued with the recipes making out a chart of basic meals to have each day; mixing up the recipes to not get tired of the “same old thing”.
Weekend before the challenge; we shopped for items that were on sale and stocked up on what we could prepare for the weeks to come.
Night before the challenge; I cooked ahead where I could and discussed with Scott items we needed to make sure we were on the same page for our food journal. For our endeavor, I browned 3 packages of ground london broil. This was about 6lbs of meat… potions of it can be frozen for future meals – but the fact that it is already cooked helps oodles. I also pounded 1 package of chicken breast, grilled and cut it into chunks and baked 2 pounds of bacon.
Wait! Did I just say baked 2 pounds of bacon? Yes I did!!! It’s so much easier to bake the bacon than fry it! It also allows you to get more of the grease out of the bacon. 450 degrees approx 15 mins *(check around 10 mins to get desired texture).
I prepared as much of the next day meals as possible and did all of this in under an hour after our infant went to bed.
I very much believe in the keep your metabolism moving; so I subscribe to the several small meals throughout the day. I also drink a crap ton of water! (How much is a crap ton? More than a gallon a day)
Day 1 Meals:
Early AM Snack: 1 teaspoon of Almond Butter (we purchased ours at Publix; but have found it cheaper at Walmart) – make sure it doesn’t contain anything BUT Almonds! The true serving size is 2 tablespoons… however this is what I stick in my mouth before I run out the door to 6:30am Crossfit. Scott grabs a spoonful to keep him going before he leaves to the7:30 Crossfit class.
If you need more than 1 teaspoon – eat up to 2 tablespoons
Breakfast: I cooked mine the night before and placed it in a container. When I arrive home from the Crossfit gym, I only have 20 minutes to shower, dress and grab the kids before we have to rush out the door to get to school & work. So I eat my breakfast as soon as I arrive at work or on the way there.
I had 2 scrambled eggs and 2 slices of bacon. Mine was packed the night before
Scott prepared 2 poached eggs after his work out and gets 2 slices of bacon from the “bacon bag” of the bacon I prepared earlier.
AM Snack: About 2 – 2.5 hours after breakfast; we eat whole almonds. We purchase the 100 calorie packs (plain – no flavors!) from BJs Wholesale Club. These are 100 calories each and provide a nice snack between breakfast and lunch.
Lunch: Lettuce Wraps…. Easy peasy! Take a large leaf of lettuce and fill it up with veggies and meat! You can use NATURAL spices such as pepper or garlic to add flavor. Remember be wary of spice blends… if you can’t pronounce it – don’t use it!
It’s Cinco de Mayo so we’re using the ground London Broil in our wraps and for dinner. ½ a cup of the ground London Broil, tomatoes, red onion and some pepper. I also placed a side of carrot sticks with the lettuce wraps. They are only 35 calories for 3 ounces and have great benefits! Not only do they improve eyesight, but they also reduce chances of stroke, heart disease, cancer and can help you out if you aren’t “regular”.
Afternoon snack: About 2-2.5 hours after lunch
Remember that chicken I grilled? One breast was about an 8oz chicken portion; so I split it into 2 containers and topped it with half an avocado in each. The glad ware small round containers work perfectly for this! Again this was made and packed the night before.
I also chopped an apple and split it for each of us to have a serving of half an apple to go with our chicken and avocado.
Dinner: Paleo Tacos! Remember we started on Cinco de Mayo. This will be used with Romaine Lettuce as it holds up better than iceberg and again the ground London Broil with some Taco Seasoning – MAKE SURE IT DOESN’T HAVE MSG! Then topping it with all the veggies I normally would just no cheese or sour cream.
Most week nights Scott does not arrive home until8pmor later. I also do not get a chance to eat until our infant goes to bed around8:30. This means dinner needs to be light and filling; but our nutritional needs met.
I will not document the “dialogue” of each days meals from here on out. The above is simply to explain how you can prepare and be ready to make the most of your Paleo endeavor. Recipes at the end J
Another Paleo Day:
Breakfast: 2 eggs, 2 slices of bacon & a spoon full of almond butter
AM Snack: 100 calorie Almond bag
Lunch: Beef Bowl – groundLondonbroil with tomatoes & onions – seasoned with garlic & pepper
Afternoon Snack: chicken, avocado & black berries
Dinner: Smothered Chicken *paleo recipe in recipe section
Here’s a good break to talk about side effects…. I don’t think we did good research on what changes this will make to our body doing Paleo.
- Extra sweat! Body is learning to cool itself and with the absence of salt – you will not retain as much water – so it’s gotta come out somehow!
- Hungry all the time! What to do about this? Make sure you pack accordingly for your day and up your good fats. Avocado is your friend!
- Carb Crashing –Atkins dieters will call it the Atkins or Carb Flu. The first few days you end your love affair with those bad carbs you will feel HORRIBLE! Don’t go back; in a few days you’ll have oodles of energy.
- Headaches – ooooh did you used to drink caffeine? Caffeine withdrawals will cause headaches. Here’s the thing about that tho… caffeine is a drug; soooo it’s like you were on crack and now you’re coming off of it. Just try not to curb it with eating other things.
- Day 5-7; you’ll notice changes in your urine and other waste. This is normal; just make sure you are drinking enough water.
- Day 15-17 – energy change! Also sleeping patterns may change here too. I began sleeping thru the night and the drag of the bad food withdrawals seemed to lift.
Other Paleo Recipes
Safe Paleo – out and about
- Chipotle!!!! Steak or Chicken Salad with mild salsa and guacamole
- Rotisserie Chicken orTurkeyat Albertson’s or Publix (Winn Dixie has MSG; so check your local grocery store to see if their Chicken orTurkeyis safe!)
- The rotisserie turkey at Albertson’s is cold and you can have it sliced for you.
- Most American Fare type restaurants: Burger with no bun and steamed veggies or fresh salad. (no dressing or bread/sugar items!)
- Logans: Steak with no sauce or “added seasoning” and a baked sweet potato with nothing on it!
END OF CHALLENGE
So our challenge ended… How did we do? 11lbs for me & 16lbs for him. 5% body fat reduction for me & 6% body fat reduction for him.
We used our last cheat day as our last day and was weighed in that morning. The funny thing was; neither of us wanted to cheat!
Will we continue? Yes, but not as strictly. If we have a celebration then we’ll celebrate with moderation. The funny thing is almost all of our celebrations were during the challenge!
Good luck to anyone else out there that may be working on their very own Paleo Challenge. I hope this was of help to someone!