For 30 days, my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles were flooded with endless food porn pictures. Well, a higher amount than normal. It was all part of a paleo challenge I did with Crossfit Naptown (CFNT). I didn’t know what to expect going into it since I’m a super picky eater and I don’t cook. The challenge is over now and I can honestly say the diet completely changed my lifestyle and the results were insane.
CFNT challenged us to be as strict as possible during the 30 days. This meant no sugar, dairy, legumes, grains, potatoes (except sweet potato) or alcohol. So what does that leave? A lot of meat, veggies, eggs, bacon, bacon and even more bacon. Some people call it the caveman diet because you eat things that are fresh and were readily available to our ancestors. We were weighed, had our hips and waist measured and did two benchmark workouts at the beginning of the challenge. That was all repeated at the end to track our progress.
As with most things in my life, I decided if I was going to do this, I was going to dive in and push myself out of my comfort zone. Prior to this challenge, I didn’t eat veggies and I never cooked (ever). Of course my other motivation was trying to push through these last few pounds I’m hoping to shed.
I had to end the challenge two days early because I was flying out for a work trip. I ended up losing 8 pounds, 2.5” in my waist and 2” in my hips. I also bought size 10 pants at the end of the challenge. For perspective, when I started my weight loss journey in January 2011, I was a size 24.
What I learned
- Someone asked if cooking was a requirement of the challenge. It’s not but it’s somewhat necessary based on what you are limited to. The stuff that’s easy to grab on the go typically isn’t the healthiest. I planned every single meal and snack and packed my lunch to make sure I had paleo-friendly foods with me throughout the day. It took work but every time I’ve had success losing weight, it’s come down to planning and preparation.
- Cooking is much less intimidating now. I feel relatively confident looking at the spices/meats I have available and assembling something edible. I am by no means a master chef though. There were some highlights: pineapple-stuffed chorizo burgers topped with avocado, paleo Reese’s cups, cauliflower rice and my first-ever attempt at chili. And there were low-lights: paleo mayo (my attempt was so gross), sausage/egg/sweet potato cups (didn’t cook long enough) and meatloaf (caused a minor meltdown).
- While I still can’t get into certain foods (carrots – gross!), I have come to like some things I never thought I would: almond butter, coconut oil, oranges, dried cranberries, spaghetti squash and more. It sounds cheesy but I’ve opened up a whole new world of flavors by forcing myself to try new things.
- I thought I would crave more foods than I actually did. I fully expected to miss Diet Coke, chips, cheese and breaded chicken. But after you go so many days without those things, your body naturally stops craving them. Except booze. My first post-paleo beer was delicious and much needed.
A lot of people have asked if I will continue on the paleo diet. I don’t know if I could do it 100 percent of the time just because there is so much cooking/planning required. But I hope to maintain the diet as much as possible. A lot of people eat paleo but add back in just dairy or just alcohol. It’s all about finding a balance that works for you.
More importantly, though, is maintaining the lifestyle. When I used to grocery shop, I would buy processed foods with 25 ingredients, bags of chips, cookies and anything else unhealthy you could think of. It’s amazing that I ever lost 80 pounds… Now I spend most of my time in the fresh produce section. I don’t think twice about throwing some spices on a chicken breast and pairing it with a salad and olive oil dressing. These are the types of behaviors that will help me stay on track long term.
What you’re really here for…
Here’s a glimpse at my cooking adventures during the challenge. A majority of the recipes came from www.paleomg.com.