Halfway There!

July 1. Today marks the halfway point of my year-long journey of sticking to a paleo diet. Wow, can’t believe 6 months has already gone by. I can’t say it’s been easy to make it this far, but it’s been much easier than I anticipated. It has truly been a learning experience and I have noticed some significant changes in my body. Here are a few things I’ve noticed, learned, and am grateful for from these past 6 months:

1. I’ve rekindled my love for cooking. Finding new recipes online, or just creating my own, has been so much fun and has really brought me joy over the past 6 months. I cook all 3 meals everyday for my boyfriend and myself (except when we occasionally go out to dinner), so that’s 3 times a day that I get to be creative and and try new things…it’s almost like a science experiment.

2. I’ve realized, and come to terms with the fact, that bread and other starchy “food” should not, and will not, ever be a part of my diet ever again (ok, except maybe one treat every few months or so, after this year is over of course). The things that these starch bombs contain harm my body far more than I enjoy them, and it’s not worth it. Gluten, skyrocketing insulin levels, phytic acid…bad.

3. I’ve realized how strong I am. Not in the “I can bench 500lbs” sense, but in the willpower arena. If I had a dollar for every time somebody offered me something non-paleo, or even pestered me about it, I’d have at least enough money to go on a significant shopping trip. Since I’ve committed to this diet, I’ve flown out of state twice and have gone on numerous overnight trips out of town, and haven’t broken my commitment to myself. I’ve packed multiple days-worth of food for myself to ensure that I stick to my diet. I’m not saying that I haven’t been tempted a few times, because I have wished with all my might that the pizookies at BJ’s Brewhouse were paleo (to no avail), but have overcome my moments of weakness.

4. I’ve learned that people generally aren’t judgmental about this lifestyle, they are genuinely curious and want to learn more. I get questions from friends and family members all the time about my diet. At first, I would answer defensively, afraid that they were judging my choices. With time, however, I learned that they were curious and really wanted to learn about nutrition (and they valued and trusted what I had to say, which means a lot to me!). So I have explained, in detail, to many people the why’s about this diet, and people seem to think it’s a great idea and even consider (if only for a moment) to jump on the bandwagon and try it out themselves. I enjoy being asked questions, and it prompts me to research things I haven’t thought about or considered about nutrition. It’s a beautiful two-way (learning) street.

5. I’ve seen some awesome changes in my body, inside and out. Before beginning this diet, I had digestive problems, fell victim to the daily 3pm energy crash, and had a little extra pudge I wanted to get rid of. I’m happy to say that my digestive system, and my gut in general, are happy and healthy now. I no longer experience an energy crash in the afternoon, which is awesome because I don’t have to rely on caffeine to keep me awake now. I’ve also toned up and lost some fat, which I am incredibly proud of. If you follow me on Instagram, then you’ve seen a few progress pictures from my journey. I’m going to share a little progress with you on this blog, too! Along with diet, this year I’ve been doing CrossFit and other weight-lifting, and the past 6 weeks I’ve been doing P90X (which has been awesome!) in preparation for an upcoming vacation to Cabo San Lucas.

 

Day1

January 1, 2014 – 120 lbs

6months

6 months later – 111 lbs

 

What does your journey in 2014 look like? I’d love to hear what you’ve accomplished and learned over the past 6 months. Post in the comments below! 🙂

Looking for Some Bikini Body Motivation?

Hey everyone! This post is aimed towards the ladies out there, but gentlemen, feel free to keep on reading if you please. This week was the launch of the annual Bikini Series hosted by Tone it Up. It is an 8 week (7 weeks left) fitness program that takes us all the way to the first day of summer…June 21.

Each day, the trainers Karena and Katrina post a new workout as well as tips and tricks to staying on track towards your goals. They have various fitness videos on their website and on YouTube, which seem pretty easy, but as with most workouts, you get what you put into it. I love mixing up my fitness routine once a year when their Bikini Series comes around. It’s always a great motivator to prepare for summer.

If you’re interested in joining a community of ladies who share a common goal of getting fit, you should definitely check this out. It’s not too late to join! Click here to find out more.

Tone-It-Up-BIKINI-SERIES-2014-karenakatrina

 

Remember to stay active and moving! This should be increasingly easier now that the weather is warming up.

Well, I’m off to the lake to get in a little wake boarding this morning. Until next time!

The Zombie Run

Being active is extremely important for overall health. Does this mean that you must spend hours upon hours in the gym? Absolutely not! Getting plenty of exercise can be fun and exciting…and can even include…zombies

Just as the zombie craze is picking up in regards to television and movies, it is also gaining popularity in the fitness arena. The Zombie Run is a 5k where “zombies” chase after you, trying to steal your flags (a.k.a. life), while you run and complete several obstacles. I participated in The Zombie Run in Sacramento about a month ago, and I have to say, it was the most entertaining 5k I’ve ever ran.

I'm on the left! :)

I’m on the left! 🙂

 

I did this run with some of my family and my boyfriend. There were all different types of obstacles, ranging from mud pits that you must run through to 15 foot walls to climb over. It was extremely fun and a great team-building event that I highly recommend. It was much more of a “fun run” than a serious 5k (if that’s not obvious), as they didn’t even have a clock going for people to see their times coming in. But it was extremely entertaining!

If you’ve participated in The Zombie Run or other mud runs, another great one to do is Tough Mudder. This is a much more serious event, consisting of a 10-12 mile run with 20 obstacles that are much more daunting than those found at The Zombie Run. I completed this one with a group of friends last summer, and it was very challenging! It took us about 5 hours to complete.

If you’re looking for something fun to spice up your exercise and activities, I recommend trying out one of these mud runs. So much fun, you hardly realize you are working out.

Paleo Protein Powders?

Paleo protein powders…where do I begin? Just the phrase “paleo protein powder” seems to contradict itself, considering the fact that processed foods are not considered paleo in the slightest. So what gives? Recently, many of these new companies and products have been popping up and increasing in popularity, but I have to ask: should they deserve the recognition of being ‘paleo friendly’? Let’s find out.

Most protein powders are made from whey or casein, which is no new information to anyone who has used protein drinks and powder supplements before (especially since it says it right on the packaging). Another bit of information that is common knowledge in the health and fitness community is that both of these ingredients (whey and casein), are made from milk. Out of all the protein in cow’s milk, 20% is whey protein and 80% is casein protein, just in case you were curious.

In general, the paleo diet excludes all dairy. In short, this is because lactose (the sugar found in dairy) causes extreme spikes in insulin levels that increases inflammation, dairy contains active cow hormones which alter human hormone levels when ingested, and it can cause a leaky gut, just to name a few (for more information on why dairy is excluded in a paleo diet, check out this post on ThePaleoMom.com.) A percentage of people involved in the paleo movement do allow grass-fed organic butter in their diets, because they feel that the fat found in dairy is extremely nutrient dense, and the positive nutritional aspect outweighs any negatives associated with the lipids in dairy (my favorite paleo guru who endorses grass-fed butter consumption is Stacy from PaleoParents.com).

With all that said, why would anyone who makes an effort to follow such a nutritious diet as the paleo diet willingly spend ridiculous sums of money on protein powder, especially those derived from whey or casein??

Protein powders and other similar “dietary supplements” are a joke…they are a way to squeeze unreasonable amounts of money out of people for a completely unnecessary product. They claim to be the fastest-absorbing protein, which is why body builders and athletes flock to the protein-shelves at their gyms, but in reality the protein in these supplements can take 1-3 hours to absorb on an empty stomach, which is not much faster than egg or chicken protein absportion. There are plenty of quick and easy sources of protein in whole-food form. If you want an easy and fast absorbing form of protein for immediately after your workout, hard boil a couple of eggs and throw them in a lunch box with an ice pack, and they will be waiting for you in the car for after your “gym sesh”…bam! Just as easy as making a protein shake and it tastes way better anyways. Real food is always better than man-made alternatives.

But, if you are driven by unyielding curiosity about “paleo protein powder,” check out this post on the Paleo Hacks website written by Casey Thaler. I’ve listed below some of the products he mentioned in the post.

Paleo Protein®: The new kid on the block is actually mainly sourced from egg protein, not dairy. While in theory this sounds better, you have to begin to think about where those eggs are coming from, and how they are processed. Are they pasture raised? Not likely.

Are they processed through damaging high heat methods? Likely. As you will come to see in almost all protein powders, an artificial sweetener, in this case, Stevia, is present.

Stevia is has been scientifically proven to augment insulin release from islets incubated in the presence of 7.0 mM D-glucose. So – despite the fact that you aren’t consuming sugar, your body still somewhat reacts like you are. Not a good thing. Overall though, if you have to select a protein powder, this is a solid choice.

MHP’s Paleo Protein®: Another somewhat new product is MHP’s. An interesting wrinkle in this product is the use of ‘hydrolyzed beef protein isolate‘ as the main protein source.

Now was this beef grass fed? Where did it come from? How was it processed?

The answers to these questions are not likely going to be favorable. We are also getting maltodextrin (processed corn starch), emulsifiers (a small truckload) and an artificial sweetener (Stevia). Whole9 has an excellent write up on why these ingredients are bogus. Thumbs down on this one.

Reserve Age® Organic Grass Fed Whey: This is the next one our list, and if you’re looking for a whey protein powder, this is actually an excellent source. Real food is still better, but their protein is minimally processed, undenatured, and grass fed. There also almost no other ingredients. Don’t forget the problems with dairy, but choose this if you want the effects (and detriments) of whey.

Mark Sisson’s Primal Fuel®: This is another interesting product. Going with coconut milk as an interesting addition to the typical protein powder formula, the rest of the mix is less favorable, loaded with sugar, maltodextrin and guar gum. Original formula, if not entirely ideal. Worse choices for sure, but why not just have a can of coconut milk and a piece of chicken?

Progenex®: This is a very popular ‘recovery’ powder. Despite it’s widespread popularity in the CrossFit® community, Progenex is probably the worst formula available, since it contains fructose, sucrose and soy. The epitome of why eating some chicken and a sweet potato are preferable, post-WOD.

Casey Thaler

Casey is a NASM certified personal trainer, fitness nutrition specialist, as well holding a bachelor of arts degree in the field of film production. He runs a nutrition and fitness consulting company called Eat Clean, Train Clean.

 

 

In summary: skip the protein powder and stick to whole-food sources of protein. Eggs, chicken, fish, meat…batch cook up some chicken breasts and keep them in the fridge for post-workout. Easy and much cheaper than buying these unnecessary protein products!

 

Surprise!

I just got in from running my first 5k of the year (just a loop around my neighborhood…not an actual race) and I surprised myself with my time. I did 3.12 miles in 21:36…that’s an average pace of 6:56 per mile. My previous PR for this distance was 23:22 in November…I think it’s safe to say that I CRUSHED that time! I’m completely blown away by this.

5k

My goal for 2014 was to complete 5k in under 21 minutes…I think I’m going to accomplish this much sooner than planned! Maybe it’s time to start working on some longer distances, like 10k or maybe a half marathon.

 

The Perfect Balance

Yep, that's me! Proof I can do some pull-ups.

Yep, that’s me! Proof that I can do some pull-ups.

Both what you put into your body and what you physically do with your body are important factors for overall health. You can eat a perfect diet and not exercise at all, and you won’t be healthy. On the opposite end of the spectrum, you can spend hours upon hours in the gym, and you may LOOK amazing and “ripped,” but if you eat like crap — example: the If It Fits Your Macros (IIFYM) trend –, your body won’t feel great, you may develop health problems like acne (or something much more serious), and there’s a strong chance your internal organs are inflamed and unhealthy. Finding the perfect balance between diet and exercise is crucial for optimum health.

Within the realm of fitness, there are three key components: strength training, cardio, and flexibility training. Finding a way to incorporate all three components is ideal. There is no magical combination or fitness routine that will automatically make you look and feel amazing. It’s all about listening to your body and tailoring a program that fits for you based on your body and goals.

 

Neon Run 5k in San Francisco. It was a blast!

Neon Run 5k in San Francisco. It was a blast!

For 2014, I have made a few personal fitness goals. I plan on running at least 3 times per week (essentially every-other day), doing CrossFit 3 times per week (WODs are posted daily on http://www.crossfit.com), and doing yoga a minimum of twice per week. I plan on giving this routine a month or two to see how it feels, and then adjust it accordingly if needed.

Squats and Deadlifts..my favorite!

Squats and Deadlifts..my favorite!

I also have a few specific goals I would like to accomplish in 2014. As far as running goes, I want to finish a 5k in under 21 minutes (my best time to date is 23:22 and was done in November 2013) and I want to participate in a half-marathon. I also want to be able to do 15 pull-ups (strict) in a row by the end of the year. Training begins NOW.

What are your thoughts on fitness, and what is your routine like? I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions!