If you follow me on any other form of social media, you’ve probably seen me throw around the hashtag #paleo in somewhat of a haphazard fashion, and I realized I never shared on my blog what that whole thing is all about. So here we go…
Up until recently, I went by the “I am a runner and I work out a lot, I can eat whatever I want, it’s fine” rule of thumb. Sure, that worked out well — I maintained my weight and was a marathon runner. While this is true, I wasn’t really “toned” and I think that could be largely attributed to the fact I was not fueling my body with healthy, nutritious foods but instead I was loading up on carbs and lots of things that are, in hindsight, healthy junk food (read: oatmeal and ALL THE PEANUT BUTTER).
This is a photo of me on July 4, 2013. I had run a full marathon one month before, and so I was essentially in the middle of a running hiatus and not really giving a thought to how I was eating or the amount of beer I was drinking at law firm events or anywhere else for that matter. I had the exercise portion of being an athlete down but my diet was probably not doing ANYTHING to aid my efforts. I know I look “fine” here except for the fact that my bikini top is completely ill-fitting and I was wearing a ratty old shirt I had literally owned for 7 years, but the point is I was essentially sabotaging what I was doing at the gym. “You can’t out-exercise a bad diet” proved to be true for me.
I have never been comfortable “dieting” — it is just not me. I refuse to count calories or restrict myself, and have always been a proponent of “everything in moderation.”
(5k time: 23:34)
Last April, a few of my friends from the gym and I decided to create a “paleo challenge” amongst ourselves for a few months. For two months, I eliminated carbs (no bread, baked goods, french fries, oatmeal, pasta) as well as sweets, soda, and other junk. After the first week, I was fully adjusted — and you know what? I LOVED IT. I loved how I felt, and I also loved that I could still eat A LOT with relatively little thought, and yet I was eating more nutritious food.
I didn’t weigh myself, but I noticed that I was more toned or lean, if that makes sense. Here’s a photo of me from July 4, 2014.
(5k time: 20:41)
When our challenge formally ended, I kept it up all the way through the bar. I took the month after the bar relatively easy on myself and cheated here and there. After Labor Day, my gym fam kicked off cleaner eating. I am again going paleo, and this time adding the additional challenge of cutting out dairy (I relied heavily on greek yogurt and cheese, so I am challenging myself to also give those up for three months this time).
Obviously I am not an R.D., but I wanted to share what worked for me and that I’m not #paleo just because it’s trendy or bougie or expensive. It is easy for me to work into my life, and it has made me a better athlete.
Here are some of my tips:
There’s a lot of websites/literature out there that talk about how important it is to get certain types of organic meat and how you should cut out dairy, but I don’t really follow that – I just cut out all carbs (except for fruits and vegetables) and sugar.
The HARDEST thing for me was to give up carbs in the morning. I SWORE by oatmeal + peanut butter + protein powder in the morning and thought I “needed it” so I was so hesitant to give it up, but now I literally wake up every morning CRAVING eggs.
Here are my staples:
3 eggs cooked in coconut oil + breakfast sausage or bacon over kale/mixed greens
Paleo Egg Muffins
(like mini quiches w/o the crust, you can make these on Sunday for the whole week).
“Oatmeal Minus the Oats
” w/ Almond Butter for days when you just want something sweet. Sounds weird but is DELICIOUS (can also substitute canned pumpkin for the banana, which I may even like better)
- Celery/Carrots/Peppers cut up
- Hard-boiled eggs
- NUTS!!! (Almonds, Cashews, Pecans…whatever. ).
- I also LOVE LOVE LOVE Quest Bars
(not 100% paleo, but VERY low-carb). Great for pre- or post-gym. Stick them in the microwave for 10 seconds and your life will be forever changed.
I am the worst cook ever (seriously besides being athletic/smart/funny my husband needs to know how to cook because I SUCK) so I normally make a bunch of chicken, ground turkey, ground beef, or steak or something and eat it for a few meals along with vegetables, also makes it easy to take to work/school. Some of my old-faithful meals:
- Chicken + Veggie Stir Fry + Soy Sauce (pretty self-explanatory)
- Chicken Lettuce Wraps
- Chicken or Steak Fajitas Minus the Tortilla
- Any type of salad
- It makes it so much easier to just decline the bread/tortilla chips (you won’t miss ‘em)
- Chipotle is HUGE for me because it feels like a treat — just order a salad and don’t skimp on the guac!