Gideon is one of the most dedicated CrossFitters at our box. He comes 4-5 times per week. You will never see him scale down to get a faster time in a WOD. He is a regular at Sunday open gym where he works on his weaknesses. And after committing to the Paleo Challenge saw amazing results. The before and after pictures will indeed say it all (which by the way we will have at the box by the end of the week). Here is his testimonial.
– Paleo Post Mortem –
When I first started CrossFit, I asked a couple of fellow, relatively new, CrossFitters if they would consider going Paleo. Their response was along the lines of ‘No fucking way. I like pizza too much.’ At the time that’s all it really took to convince me not to try it on my own. I know it’s a pretty lame excuse, but I was obviously not ready to ‘work’ for my meals.
For me, any diet that was worth doing required work. I’ve tried several other diets/workout programs in the past (Zone, Body for Life, P90X, etc.) and while they all worked in getting me to lose weight and get into better shape, they all required work – portion this food with a combination of that food this many times a day. They required discipline and a major change in lifestyle that I could not sustain for more than 4 weeks at a time … and I didn’t. Knowing me, maybe a year into CrossFit, I probably would have tried Paleo on my own. But luckily, the fabulous prizes of the Paleo Challenge provided the incentive I needed to give it a serious go.
I actually started the Challenge on the day it was first announced, 5 day prior to when it officially started. For those five days I was very strict, eating only a subset of the Encouraged Foods listed in Paleo Diet by Loren Cordain (http://altmed.creighton.edu/Paleodiet/Foodlist.html) – boneless/skinless chicken breasts, salmon, vegetables and fruit. I even explored Paleo alcoholic drinks (brandy and ice or with fresh orange juice).
I saw immediate affects. I found I was eating a lot more but was always hungry and at the same I was still losing weight. I also found that I wasn’t immediately tired in the afternoon either. I was glad that I didn’t have to worry about portioning foods or eating a prescribed number of times a day. I pretty much just listened to my body and ate when I was hungry and stopped when I wasn’t. The only ‘work’ that I had to do was figuring out which high-quality foods I wanted to put in my system and having them readily available when it was time to eat.
I decided early on that in exchange for the ease of grabbing what was readily available from the deli near my work, I wasn’t going to concern myself with cost, even though it was getting a bit expensive eating so much high-quality food. What was a big concern was whether I would be able to maintain strict Paleo, week in and week out. The boneless/skinless chicken breasts was going to get old fast (even with the occasional salmon steaks). Remarkably the solution to both concerns was to be less strict and to have cheat moments.
I introduced more fats (chicken thighs with the skin and other fatty meats) and that helped make me full somewhat. I was still eating a lot but I had more options to choose from. Also as I was finding out what foods worked for me, asking others for advice and researching online, I found that people had different interpretations of what ‘being Paleo’ meant. Some foods I thought that were big no-nos (processed meats, cheese/dairy) others thought were fine in moderation. Realizing this, it made it easy not to really cheat. I never needed a ‘cheat meal’ and only had ‘cheat moments’. When I had these moments, it was with some cheese/dairy, or with 4 or 5 french fries. Every now and then I’d have a Hanson’s fruit soda or a diet Coke with my meal. Also I still drank alcohol. Just whiskey on the rocks, no mixers (tonic, coke, etc.)
For the most part I didn’t experience any ill effects from my cheat moments. The one exception was with breads. Once I had half a hot dog bun when I was running errands and didn’t have time for a proper meal and by the time I got back to the office I immediately felt tired and unproductive. Another time I had a slice of chocolate cake (it was bought in my honor so I had to partake) and initially I didn’t feel too bad. But by the time I got home, I was sick to my stomach and was completely lethargic. I almost missed a dinner date with a friend because I had so much trouble getting motivated to get ready. It must be the form of the bread that affects me, because since the completion of the Challenge, I had some rice in one meal and a whole burrito in another without the same side effects.
Because I started the Challenge about a month into starting CrossFit, it’s hard to quantify my gains to just Paleo or the fact that I’ve been training consistently. Although for about 5 days during a mini-vacation, I didn’t train at all and continued to eat Paleo and I came back weighing less. My physical appearance has definitely improved (which hopefully the before and after pictures will show). I lost about 8-9 pounds. But more importantly in addition to the lost weight, I’ve gained a lot of lean muscle. Performance-wise I’ve knocked off about 1 to 1 1/2 minutes off my baseline Grace and Helen WODs. I went from 7 pull ups to 17. And despite my sore lower back I was able to PR my Deadlift by 5 lbs (330 lbs).
So what do I think of my experience with going Paleo and the Paleo Challenge? I’m glad that the Challenge was 3 months long as a shorter period would not have instilled it as a lifestyle change for me. I also liked that I was doing Paleo with others allowing me to commiserate and compare notes. Overall I feel really good physically and mentally. Whether it can all be attributed specifically to Paleo or in conjunction with CrossFit, it’s hard to say. But it certainly didn’t hurt. Even without the CrossFit component, I probably would still recommend Paleo because it is relatively easy to follow and maintain for the health gains you get back. I don’t know if the way I followed Paleo is typical or even prescribed, but the fact is I was able to make it work for me – something I couldn’t say for the other diets I’ve tried. It’s funny, during the Challenge, I kept thinking about what would be the first non-Paleo meal I was going to have (burrito, pizza, pasta, sushi). But now that it’s done, those cravings aren’t there anymore. I’m sure I’ll have them at some time but I’m fine continuing with Paleo.
Thank you Joc and Kyle for putting this all together.
Pull Ups 7…17
CROSSFIT FOOTBALL WOD
OH Squat (135/95)