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! 🙂

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!

 

Tuesday 3/25/14 WOD

Hey guys! I haven’t posted much about CrossFit lately (I took a month-long break and focused to focus on running). Today was my 4th WOD for the past week, and we did “Daniel”. Let me just say…my body is feeling destroyed right now.

Daniel

For time:
50 pull-ups
400-meter run
95-lb. thruster, 21 reps
800-meter run
95-lb. thruster, 21 reps
400-meter run
50 pull-ups

This took me around 23 minutes to complete (I forgot to write down my actual time). I’m already feeling sore, too. Gotta love not being able to move without wincing 😉

I adjusted the workout a bit, and just did 35 pull-ups on either end of the workout instead of 50, and I had to use a resistance band. Also, I only weigh 110 lbs, so doing a 95-lb thruster just wasn’t gonna happen (although it would be pretty awesome!). Today I was only able to do the thrusters @ 40-lbs…My goal is to get them up to 60% of my body weight, which would be 57-lbs.

Image

Caught in the middle of a thruster!

Shrimp & Chicken Stir Fry Recipe

One of my favorite (easy!) meals to make when I haven’t gone grocery shopping in a few days is a stir-fry. It’s one of those dishes where you can pretty much throw in whatever veggies you have on hand, and it will taste phenomenal. This is when I use up those extra 10 Brussels sprouts hanging out in my fridge, or that frozen bag of organic broccoli that is just taking up too much room in my freezer. Pour some Sriracha sauce on it, and BAM! Instant deliciousness.

Shrimp and Chicken Stir Fry

You can use either frozen or fresh veggies for this, it doesn’t really matter. The only advise I’d give or using frozen is to not use frozen Brussels sprouts (they tend to get mushy when you cook them. Kinda weird. Way worth it to use fresh for these guys.), and to defrost frozen veggies in the microwave then drain the water before adding them to the pan.

Shrimp & Chicken Stir Fry

Serves: 4

  • 4-5 cups cooked, frozen devained detailed shrimp, defrosted (feel free to use non-frozen too)
  • 2 chicken breasts, cubed
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 green summer squash
  • 2 heads of broccoli
  • 4-5 cups brussels sprouts
  • 1 Small Yellow Onion
  • 1-2 tbsp. Siracha (to taste)
  • 2 tbsp. fat of choice (I used coconut oil, but olive oil is fine too!)
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  1. Dice onion. Add fat to a deep pan, then add onion. Cook over medium heat for about 3 minutes, stiring occasionally. Meanwhile, prepare other veggies.
  2. Wash and cut zucchini, squash, and broccoli into bite-size pieces.
  3. To prepare brussels sprouts, cut off stems then cut brussels sprouts in half. Remove outermost layer of leaves.
  4. Add broccoli and brussels sprouts to pan with onion, season with salt and pepper, and over. Cook for 5-6 minutes until veggies begin to get tender, stirring occasionally. Then add zucchini and squash to pan. Cook, covered, until all veggies are fork tender.
  5. While veggies are cooking, cook chicken in a separate pan. Heat 1 tbsp oil in pan, then add diced chicken. Season with salt and pepper. Flip chicken over occasionally to ensure it is cooked evenly.
  6. Cook chicken thoroughly, about 6-8 minutes, then add to pan with veggies.
  7. Add thawed shrimp to pan with veggies and chicken. Pour Sriracha over the stir-fry mixture. Continue to cook on medium heat for about 1-2 minutes until shrimp is heated through. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Feel free to add any vegetables you have on hand. Cauliflower and carrot go great in this, too!

January in Review

Ok, so I’ve officially made it over a month being on the paleo diet. I’m feeling pretty comfortable with it now, especially when we are just eating at home. I’ve found some amazing recipes and have really gotten used to not having any sort of grains with my meals (I used to eat bread with almost every meal).

I never thought I’d say this, but I actually have gotten somewhat used to eating out as well. I learned to start asking for the gluten-free menu and ordering from there, unless I felt like ordering salad or something a la carte. I have a slight feeling of sadness when we go to eat at Mexican restaurants and my boyfriend gets to eat the chips and salsa they bring to the table, but it quickly fades once I realize how proud I am of myself for not giving into the temptation staring at me.

Found this on the internet…thought it was pretty funny ;)

Found this on the internet…thought it was pretty funny, despite the poor grammar  😉

Although I did stick to eating paleo in January, my fitness regimen has been shoved to the side a little bit. I spent the first two weeks of the month traveling and am just now getting fully acclimated to the lifestyle back at home. James and I have been walking our dog Roxie pretty regularly for at least a mile a day, and we have been doing CrossFit workouts together a few times a week. With that being said, I realize that I haven’t been completely ignoring fitness, but I feel the strong need to crank it up a notch. My motivation: I’m a bridesmaid in my friend’s wedding the first week of March, and I NEED to look my best in that dress! 😉

I’m trying to keep my fitness goals for February realistic:

Run 3 days per week – 2.5 – 3.5 miles(about every-other day)

CrossFit 2 days per week

Strength training 3 days per week: 5 rounds of: 10 pull-ups (mostly assisted), 20 squats, 10 burpees (the 5 rounds can be split up throughout the day or done all at once)

Yoga 5 days per week

For the month of February, I also want to try and check in on this blog at the end of every day with a recap on what I ate and what workout I completed. I think that will help keep me in check a little better! I would love to hear any advise you all have on creating a workout schedule that works for you, and sticking to it!

Tuesday WOD 1/28/14

Tuesday was an excellent day in my household. James and I woke up, had coffee, and got an awesome workout in. Our WOD was Marguerita : For time- 50 reps of Burpee/Push-up/Jumping-Jack/Sit-up/Handstand. It was a cat and mouse type workout, in that one of us would speed up, and the other would try and catch up and get ahead of the other person. We ended up both completing it in 20:14, and man am I sore! I’ve posted a video below so you can see what just 1 rep looks like.

For lunch, I made almond-crusted tilapia with sweet potato fries and a spinach salad. Nothing too crazy there. 28 days of paleo: completed! 🙂

Day 20 – Monday 1/20/14

As I wrap up my 20th day of my paleo challenge for 2014, I can’t help but to be at least a little proud of myself. As of today, I have accomplished many things that seemed out of reach when I began working towards my goal of having a fully paleo year. I’ve tried over 10 new recipes (which is more than I did for the entire year of 2013, probably), I’ve gone longer than I ever have without consuming dairy or grains (let’s face it…I was addicted to bread and starchy carbs of all kinds…but not anymore!), and I’ve lost 7 lbs (ok, the weight loss is just a side effect. I didn’t aim to lose any weight, but I figured it was bound to happen). I’d say that 2014 is off to an excellent start, and I can’t wait to see how much more I can accomplish this year.

Today’s recap:

Breakfast: 1 egg + 1 banana + coffee

WOD: 4 rounds of run .5 mile, rest 90 seconds (times: 3:37, 3:43, 3:42, 3:37  –  total time: 14:39 for 2 miles – 7:20 avg. pace per mile) I was happy to have a day off from weight training, since nearly every muscle in my body was already sore.

photo

Lunch: 1/2 chicken breast + broccoli + roasted butternut squash + 1 sweet potato

Snacks: 1 apple + 1 banana + 1/2 cup mixed nuts (walnuts, almonds, pistachios, dried cherries)

Dinner: 1 sweet potato + 1/2 chicken breast (I intended on having a salad, but ate dinner while cleaning the kitchen and just completely forgot to eat it!)

Dessert: 1 cup organic peppermint tea (no sweetener) + 1.5 oz dark chocolate (yum!)

I’ve come to realize through these past 20 days that I absolutely love sweet potatoes. Like, they are now my favorite food. It’s pretty ridiculous how much I love them. I’m glad that I work out a fair amount, because that halfway justifies how many I like to eat nearly every day.