A Girl with Crohn's


Paleo Round 2A while back I tried a paleo clean eating challenge with my Crossfit box and saw some success. While I lost body fat and gained lean mass, I noticed a big change in how my gut felt. When the challenge rolled around again for summer I hesitated, but decided to go for round two. It can’t hurt to reset the body, can it?

This round of clean eating was light years better than my last effort. I was surprised when the four weeks for the challenge flew by and I had lost seven pounds. More importantly, I was feeling confident and I was feeling happy. My gut had some ups and downs but nothing completely out of the normal. However, there were foods that I really missed and had to have. Like really had to have.

So the compromise is to eat clean six days a week with a cheat day. If I really want something, I’m not going to deny myself the treat. I’ve denied myself a lot of things because of my Crohn’s disease and I’m not really thinking I want to keep doing that.

In this clean eating effort I have rediscovered my love for pumpkin. This used to be relegated to a fall surprise but thank goodness for Whole Foods canned pumpkin. Pumpkin pancakes are quite possibly one of the best paleo pancake recipes ever. I found it in Practical Paleo and it’s by far one of the best books I’ve read on the subject. I’m a pretty picky eater and was amazed at how many recipes were dog-eared by the time I was finished.

Photo Credit: Vegetables by Mikhail Esteves

Where has all the motivation gone?

After the Disney Princess Half Marathon, my motivation apparently decided to take a vacation. A very long vacation. And it make not return.

I definitely blame it on the weather. Springtime in Colorado is a fickle beast. One day it’s sunny and close to 80. The next day we get two feet of snow in Golden. If it were winter I wouldn’t be complaining but there are no words to describe two feet of snow in mid-April.

winter gardeningI’m trying to find ways to get my motivation back. Registering for races isn’t really doing it for me since I have the Colfax Marathon Relay coming up in a month and the Denver Half Century Ride in June. I even thought my upcoming vacation to Jamaica would entice me to get back on the weight loss wagon but no such luck.

What am I missing here? Where could my motivation have gone?

And the above awesome photo perfectly sums why we can’t put anything in the ground before Mother’s Day.

What Happened When I Ate Paleo for 30 Days

I’m definitely late in posting this since the challenge was finished in the middle of February. That did allow me to go back to eating the old foods during my last weeks of half marathon training and it’s an interesting perspective I now have.

healthy eating paleo challenge

What was the challenge?

The 30 day Crossfit and Paleo challenge was just that – 30 days of strict paleo eating, food journaling, Crossfit workouts, mobility exercises, and sleeping well. Thirty days, cold turkey, of no added sugars or grains or legumes. I jokingly called it the “no” diet. I think paleo gets a  bad rap because it’s a “fad diet” and those all tend to disappear in due time. I think the premise behind it is solid – eliminate things that are known to cause inflammation in your gut. Eating and meal planning was the most difficult part. On top of that was exercise of all kinds – Crossfit, running, walking, rowing and mobility – and tracked our sleep patterns.

I felt like I lived on the scale, weighing in every other morning or so and I was frustrated. The weight wasn’t shifting. Was this really working? Did I feel better from the change of diet? Not really? So what was actually happening in my body during this process?

During the challenge

Here were my baseline numbers:

  • Lean Pounds: 109.8
  • Body Fat: 34.1%
  • 500 meter row time: 2:19
  • Burpee total in three minutes: 33
  • 5 minute AMRAP (5 pushups, 10 squats, 15 leg lifts): 4 + 15 sets
  • Plank hold time: 1:12

I lost my mind and cheated one day with buttery roles from Texas Roadhouse. Not gonna lie, they were delicious. I wouldn’t say I did great with eating paleo. There were days when I just couldn’t figure things out so I resorted to a dry salad. There were days where I was just miserable because I felt like I was eating the same things over and over again. There were days when I felt great because we were converting our favorites into something we could eat. At the end of this I can honest say that eating paleo is difficult.

The majority of my workouts consisted of runs since I was on the tail end of my half marathon training. I had a few Crossfit workouts mixed in there along with the 25,000 meter rowing challenge. This was on par with my normal workout routine.

30 Day Paleo Challenge Results

We went in for the body fat retest and I was positive there wasn’t going to be any change in my weight or body fat. Here are those results:

  • Lean Pounds: 112 – Up 2.2 pounds
  • Body Fat: 32.5% – Down 1.6%
  • 500 meter row time: 2:02 – Shaved off 17 seconds
  • Burpee total in three minutes: 41 – 8 more burpees 
  • 5 minute AMRAP (5 pushups, 10 squats, 15 leg lifts): 5 sets – 15 more reps
  • Plank hold time: 1:36 – Held 24 more seconds

 30 Days Post Paleo

As I mentioned, once the challenge was over and the weigh-in was final I carb-loaded like I’ve never seen carbs before. I did have a half marathon in a week, after all! Turns out, there’s something to this diet. Once I started eating grains again, things I used to eat on a regular basis, my gut didn’t want to cooperate. I was bloated. I had gas. Stomach pain. Diarrhea. My Crohn’s Disease came out in full force. I had a small glass of chocolate milk – it completely did me in! One month later and I’m still having issues. I’m exhausted all the time.

Looking back I can see the changes it did for me. They weren’t things I was really expecting and they were so subtle that I didn’t even notice. But going back to the old ways was eye-opening.

So guess who’s going to back to a version of a primal diet? This gal. I’m not going to go strict paleo as before because I really think I need more carbs to keep running. (My training runs were brutal!) It’s going to require some testing and changes so stay tuned to see how it goes.

Photo Credit: Healthy Eating! by atache

Fat isn’t the Problem

It’s Valentine’s Day and like most folks I’m enjoying a sugar high. It’s an even bigger high because I’ve been eating paleo for the past thirty days. I may not sleep tonight. But I’ll have a paleo update soon because the results of my experience are very interesting and also support this article.

I came across this article on the Washington Post and I found it really interesting. They have charted sugar and fat consumption by country around the world. I would have expected to see the United States high for both. The first glaring chart in this article supports that theory. The US is highest on the list and one of the most, if not THE MOST, obese country in the world.

where people eat the most sugar and fat

As you did deeper into the data, however, the numbers get really interesting.

Here in the United States, the average person consumes more than 126 grams of sugar per day, which is slightly more than three 12-ounce cans of Coca-Cola. That’s more than twice the average sugar intake of all 54 countries observed by Euromonitor.

Americans eat a lot of sugar. The problem is that they don’t even realize it. When we started our paleo challenge, it was really hard to find foods that didn’t have some form of added sugar – things I would never have guessed like canned vegetables and uncured bacon. This shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone.

Forward to fat consumption. Surprise here – the United States isn’t even in the top 15 for most fat consumption! The top five: Belgium, Germany, Finland, Netherlands, and Sweden. Now, let’s compare obesity rates. This data is from “The World Fatbook” provided by the CIA.

  • 1. United States: 74.60%
  • 83. Belgium: 22.10%
  • 59. Germany: 25.10%
  • 77. Finland: 23%
  • 103. Netherlands: 18.80%
  • 104. Sweden: 18.60%

Those consumers of fat don’t appear to have an obesity epidemic. Germany has the higher obesity rate of those top five, but they also consume higher sugar amounts than the rest. At 25% though, it’s still impressive.

I know there are a lot of factors that aren’t considered here, and I’m definitely not a scientist or expert by any means, but based on these numbers alone, fat is not the problem. Sugar is the problem. The real problem is soda and hidden sugars in all the processed and preserved foods we consume.

I’m not pushing paleo. I’m not pushing diets or Whole30 or any of those other “lifestyle changes” being thrown around these days. I do, however, think that if we can go back to eating food we prepare ourselves, we’ll see a big change in the obesity rates of this country.

I’ll go back to my binge chocolate eating now.



I was involved in an SEO (search engine optimization) chat today with a lot of industry folks and I asked one of the big talking heads what he thought was the one characteristic that enabled him to be successful. His response surprised me – empathy. It was a welcomes response in an industry where egos and big heads tend to get in the way.

It’s something so simple in concept but so incredibly difficult to master. Sometimes sympathy is the last thing people need but empathy is sometimes hard to come by. I say this as a Crohn’s patient that gets a lot of sympathy, and not always the good kind.

definition of persistence

I tweeted his response and got a different but equally interesting response: persistence. I love this. It’s elbow grease. It’s gritted teeth. It’s fire. I’ve always said running is just about putting one foot in front of the other. Just keep moving forward and you’ll be fine.

When I was first started running, it was a challenge. Picking up both feet and shuffling forward, slowly but surely. Pushing through the pain, the burn, the agony at times. I wondered often why I was doing this to myself. At that time I was training for a half marathon with Team Challenge. My motivation then was completing my first half marathon and supporting the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America. Thinking of all those amazing things kept my feet moving forward.

Fast forward three years and I still support this amazing cause but I have a different kind of challenge. The running is easy. It’s the mental game that’s tough. It’s continuing to run when you aren’t training for a race, when you aren’t trying to lose weight, when you just want to eat cookies and watch New Girl. When you’ve already put in a mile, it’s tough to put in three more. (This is why I found very long out and backs, by the way)

I hear a lot of my friends say, I don’t know how you run that far. I usually respond with, “I don’t know how you run that short.” It takes a couple of miles to find my groove, to start feeling amazing, to feel like I can run forever. Once you get over that hump, the world becomes your oyster to explore.

It’s that feeling at mile 2.3 that keeps me going. That’s what I hold on to. That stress melting, scenery peeking, legs aren’t hurting any more grand ole time. I promise – once you find it, and can replicate it, you’ll never look at running the same way again.

Photo credit: Justin Leibow via Unsplash