Wednesday, June 3, 2009

What I learned from the Paleo challenge

Weightlifting

Today was weightlifting. Worked on snatch. Again. I am sore. I am tired of snatch. But it was actually very useful - we did some exercises to work on speed: box jumps landing in a squat and snurpees (snatch-burpees), a modified burpee where you land in a squat. We ended with a WOD:

4 rounds of:
4 hang snatch (55#)
4 box jumps (squat landing)
4 snurpees

My time was 7:21. I didn't take this WOD at full intensity because I was trying to strike a balance between speed and maintaining form.

Tomorrow I will not be working on snatch. But I will be going all out on the WOD because I'm traveling all day Friday and won't get a chance to work out.

Today is the last day of the paleo challenge. I think Jim and I are the only ones left (officially) participating! But I hope that a lot of people are still going with it and have found it useful. I know I only got through those first two (difficult) weeks because I knew other people were doing it with me.

10 Things the Paleo Challenge Taught Me
  1. I can live without dairy. This came as a surprise.
  2. I can live without sugar. In fact, I don't even want it anymore.
  3. I do crave bitter flavors. Without coffee or tea, I eat a lot of walnuts. And spinach.
  4. I discovered new preferences: I actually like fruit, and I prefer raw nuts to roasted salted ones.
  5. Variety is very important to me, except for breakfast - I just don't get sick of eggs.
  6. It is possible to satisfy a craving with just one bite.
  7. A modern American diet is chock full of preservatives and additives, and it feels really good to cut those out completely.
  8. Writing down everything you eat really helps you to be good.
  9. Most people eat a lot of crap without even noticing it. When you're eating clean, every candy bar, bag of chips, soda, or piece of pizza that someone reaches for jumps out at you.
  10. It's easy to talk yourself into unhealthy food choices (for convenience, social reasons, psychological reasons), and you make more of them than you think you do. When you start trying to eat clean, you realize just how much rationalizing you were doing.
So what's next? I've been neglecting my Zone portions for the month, as I just tried to get used to eating only Paleo-friendly foods. Going forward, I am going to get back to Zone portions, and if I need to add in some dairy to do that (especially for snacks) I'll stick to cultured dairy like yogurt and cottage cheese. I will stay away from sugar and starches and soy and, yes, caffeine. But I'll let myself have a beer or a cup of decaf once in a while without stressing about it.

This month-long experiment challenged my assumptions and, in the end, surprised me. Eating paleo feels really good. Maybe not at first (it took me a good two weeks to get over fatigue and to adjust), but if you give it a fair shot, you just might find that you have more energy, faster recovery, and just feel better and stronger overall. I did.

Any thoughts from anyone out there that did the Paleo challenge (even if you didn't finish it)? Any curiosity or questions?

1 comment:

claudia said...

Its interesting that it took two weeks for you to settle into the diet.

I've been eating mostly clean for several months now, with about 10% cheat meals. I definitely don't miss all the white bread and white sugar that I used to eat! But I couldn't get by without dairy -- milk, cheese, yogurt and cottage cheese are musts!