One Week of Paleo – The Good, Bad and Ugly

7 days of paleo

I’m seven days in to this Transformation 30 challenge. I haven’t died and it’s actually been easier than I thought. The first few days were difficult. I felt like I was just eating the same thing every day. I had to get used to reading food labels and asking lots of questions. Within a couple of days I felt like I could at least make decisions without having to carry a paper around with a bunch of foods I’m not allowed to eat. I’m convinced people thought I was crazy.

7 days of paleo

What’s different after eating paleo for seven days?

The Good

I lost six pounds in a week. SIX POUNDS! I think under normal circumstances that would be highly frowned upon but I was eating between 1300 and 1600 calories every day. Never was I hungry that I didn’t eat a meal or a snack. There was no starvation. No excessive exercise. No pills. No gimmicks. I just had better foods that weren’t loaded with carbs or sugar.

I’ve {almost} stopped craving sugar 10 times a day. I haven’t noticed the ones around lunch time in a couple of days. The ones I normally have after dinner are still there. But I’m thinking this is more of a habit than a craving. I didn’t throw out all the bad stuff before starting this challenge, frankly because that’s a lot of money to throw in the trash. Today when I was putting something away in the pantry I saw candy and immediately thought that I should eat that. It wasn’t because I was hungry or because I was wanting it. It’s just a habit that if I see something sweet, I eat it.

The Bad

One of the things I CAN”T stand to do is eat the same thing over and over. I can’t even repeat dinners in the same week, or even two weeks. And I hate leftovers. I was nervous that we were going to be eating the same thing every day.

I was scouring recipe sites looking for ways to eat paleo until one day I realized that I’m going about this all wrong. I don’t necessarily need to change what I eat, I just need to change how I prepare it. Back to square one but off to a much better start. We made a delicious stew, crockpot enchiladas, tacos, and even “brownies.” If we can keep this up, we should be able to make it for the challenge.

The Ugly

When I’ve mentioned this challenge to folks I’ve had several similar responses, “no one PRs eating paleo.” I didn’t give it much thought, especially since I’m far from an elite athlete. But today, I’m beginning to wonder if they were right. I had a 5K race today – the Polar Bear at Wash Park. I’ve been seeing amazing times on my watch for the past couple of weeks – my best 5K and 5 mile times were posted in my last few training runs. Even the crappy one on ice wasn’t half bad.

Today was terrible. I had nothing in the tank after mile two. I’m sure you’ve heard the expression, “walking is just controlled falling.” That’s exactly how I felt today. I shuffled one foot on front of the other and did my best to not stop and walk. I finished in 33:58, more than 30 seconds behind my best time but way worse than the training run where I posted just over 31 minutes three weeks ago. On top of that, I had to add four miles after the 5K to get in my seven mile training run for the Disney Princess half. Brutal.

I can’t say definitively if this week of carb-less and sugar-less eating is the only reason I did bad or just part of it. I have several longer training runs this week that I have to blast through so we’ll see how those go.

5 Things I Learned from Day 1 of Paleo

paleo_food_pyramidI did something crazy. I signed up for my Crossfit gym’s Transformation 30 challenge. 30 days of Paleo eating and righting all my wrongs. Well, at least the eating wrongs. Thankfully they understand people can’t handle dramatic change so they offered a sliding scale. While I can have dairy (nom nom cheese) I can’t have sugar, grains, legumes, etc. I realized this was going to be difficult, especially for two people that go to the grocery store every single day because we can’t meal plan.

I bit the bullet and planned the meals for week 1, using a combination of recipes from these highly recommended Paleo sites and trying to modify recipes we love to meet our needs. The challenge started on Monday. I’m one day down. 29 to go. If I yell, trust me when I say it’s my stomach doing all the talking.

5 Things I Learned From Day 1 of Paleo

1. Everything has sugar!

I’ve kind of known this I chose to admit it. Granted, there are literally hundreds if not thousands of articles online that talk about the omnipresence of sugar. Since I hadn’t been looking for it, except for the cookies and brownies and candy bars and ice cream…where was I? Oh right, because I wasn’t looking for sugar I didn’t realize it was in things like bacon, canned tomatoes, diced chiles. EVERYTHING. We can’t get away from it. I’m still on the hunt for sugar free bacon. I’ve had Applegate recommended so now it’s just a matter of finding that brand.

2. It can be cheap.

Yes, if you want to do Paleo right and find grass-finished meets and pasture-raised poultry, it’s going to run you a pretty penny. However, the rest of the diet can be relatively cheap. Supplement your meat with plenty of veggies to offset the cost. Most vegetables are less than $1.00 per serving and some, like potatoes, are usually less than $0.50 per serving. The easiest way to ensure you’re finding the cheapest vegetables is to purchase in-season. It may vary by region but the USDA published this list of vegetables by season.

3. Sugar cravings suck.

Like really suck. After lunch today that’s all I could think about. The plates of buckeyes on the table in our company kitchen definitely didn’t help. At all. It’s going to take some a lot of willpower. My first solid meal was probably laced in sugar (just kidding, my mom and dad were way better parents than that) so I’ve a ways to go to stop thinking about sweets.

4. Almost anything can be converted to Paleo.

After struggling for an hour to meal plan, I realized there had to be a better way. I told everyone I talked to today about this challenge (success comes in numbers, right?) and through those conversations I realized that with a little ingenuity and creativity, we can turn almost any meal into something that is paleo-friendly.

5. You don’t have to give up everything.

We were handed a list of everything we can’t eat. It was a long list, a long list of many things I LOVE. Like grains. And sugar. Mmm, bread. It was discouraging. I understand the need to eat better and I’m glad I’m using this challenge as a way to figure that out. However, I’ve never been the kind of person to just give up things I love. And I just happen to love all the wrong things when it comes to my diet. After flipping through several recipe sites I realized that I don’t have to give up the things I love, I just have to change my mindset.

What is Paleo?

I’ve had quite a few folks ask me two questions: first, what is the big deal with the paleo diet and two, what does paleo actually mean?

I’m not going to pretend to be an expert.

I found an excellent infographic resource from Primal Bites that I think will answer your questions. She also had the awesome real food pyramid at the beginning of this post. Check out that post and if you still have questions, Google can probably help. Otherwise, feel free to stop back by and I’ll probably have a few more updates on this whole challenge.

2015 Personal Goals

2015 Personal Goals

Every year thousands of folks set New Years resolutions, throw their fist in the air, and swear on their unborn babies that THIS will be the year they succeed. Myself included. I don’t think I have kept one single resolution.

Psychologist Peter Herman has a term for this. He calls it “false hope syndrome,” a fairly bleak term for an all-too-common phenomenon. “New Year’s resolvers typically report making the same pledge for five years or more before they manage a six-month success, and of those who fail this year, 60% will make the same resolution again next year,” Herman writes in his research on the topic.

According to this article from Fast Company, there are several key changes we can make that will increase your chances of success. So I’m going to set my 2015 goals with these things in mind.

My 2015 Personal Fitness Goals

1. 33 minute 5K time – that means I need to drop 22 seconds from my PR 

2. Run 670 miles in 12 months – part of the 2015 in 2015 challenge with two friends 

3. Achieve a healthy BMI – even though I think a lot of BMI tools are hokum

4. Finally stay away from foods that impact my gut from Crohn’s Disease

5. Completed my dream run – the Disney Princess Half Marathon

Now, according to that article, there are a few things I need to do.

Small Victories

First, I should break my goals into more management chunks and celebrate the small victories. Makes complete sense! We’ll see if I’m able to celebrate at the end of January.

  • Build in a speed workout every Monday
  • Complete 6 5Ks throughout the year to continuously test my progress
  • January mileage total – 60 miles
  • Crossfit 30 day challenge starting on January 10th, with my first BMI test on January 17th
  • Document my food and symptoms every day in January

Make a Plan

Next, a plan is necessary. “Changes in behavior are made not by willpower, but by using concrete skills. Make a plan.”

  • Running will happen on Monday, Wednesday and Saturday of every week, minimum
  • Crossfit will happen on Tuesday and Thursday, minimum
  • Mileage and cross training workouts will be recorded in my daily planner
  • Recording my food in MapMyFitness app

Find a Friend

Next, I need to find support and share my plan. I’m a talker, so this seems pretty easy.

  • Talk to friends and family about foods I’m not supposed to eat because it may flare symptoms of my Crohn’s disease
  • Review my food log with Crossfit coaches during the 30 day challenge
  • I have two awesome ladies depending on my miles to achieve 2015 miles total for the team

Don’t Get Discouraged

Last, I need to own the slip ups. That’s where this blog will come in handy. I’ll be posting my progress (or lack thereof) and sharing what’s working (or what’s not) so you can celebrate or nag, whichever is most needed that day. I would love to share in this journey with as many people that are interested, so grab a cup of joe and keep in touch.

A Clean Bill of Health

I had my follow up colonoscopy this week and we were hoping to find the inflammation gone since doubling my dose of Remicade. Well, the results were probably the best we possibly could have hoped for. Not only is all the inflammation gone but, according to Doctor Rev, “of all the results I’ve seen for you, including all your historical results I have access to, this is by far the best I’ve seen your colon.”

happy dance

Even I was blown away at the photos taken during the procedure. I’ve NEVER actually seen my colon look healthy before.

Thank goodness for good drugs. And all the researchers that poor their heart and soul into developing them. Just another reason to continue everything I’m doing to support the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation.

I still have the stricture and we have to discuss our options. The doc wants to use balloon dilation and expand the opening. To give you an idea of how bad the stricture is, he couldn’t get through with a pediatric scope. *sad*

A couple of high notes from the procedure, compliments of the anesthesia:

  • Upon hearing they would be using a high definition pediatric scope, I responded with “I live my life in high definition.” I didn’t copy write it folks, feel free to use it all you want.
  • When instructed to think happy thoughts, I went straight to Christmas and proceeded to tell the docs about all my wonderful sugarplum dreams. This sounds exactly like something I would actually do, regardless of the propofol.

This will most likely be the close I ever get to actually having a clean bill of health. I’ll definitely take it.

 

A new 5K PR at the Rudolf Ramble

One of my favorite ways to stay active in the winter is the RunDenver winter series of 5Ks. I’ve come to appreciate the 5K as a little bit more than a fun run. It’s a great way to test my continued improvement. Sometimes the small accomplishments are hard to notice and keep track of, especially when improvements come in the form of seconds over many miles. Or in the form of a few pounds or a few inches over months. Unfortunately that’s why it’s so easy for me to lose track of my goals.

I haven’t been running like I should, especially since I have a half marathon in about eight weeks. So when I shaved 50 seconds off my 5K PR, I was left shocked and speechless at City Park.

At the Rudolf Ramble, I was looking forward to seeing a group of fellow runners that I haven’t seen in a while and I was excited to just get moving. I wasn’t even thinking about being able to PR so I started off slowly toward the back of the pack. My pace was comfortable but I was pacing people, so I was pretty happy. I had my trusty Garmin on my wrist but I decided to ignore the pace and just focus on the feel of the run.

Rudolf Ramble Finish LineOne of the best parts of Team Challenge is the family you have once you participate for a season. Through seven seasons my running family has grown exponentially and it really pays off when you start knowing the volunteers at races. At each turn was a smile from someone I knew, cheering me and the hundreds of other runners on to the next turn. I can’t even describe the rush of adrenaline that surges through my body when I hear someone scream my name and words of encouragement. It takes the runners high to a whole new level! I’m so thankful for each one of those people.

 

When I hit the two mile mark I realized I was on pace to PR this 5K. My competitive side kicked in and I picked up the pace, knowing that I could push for the last mile. The side stitches start knocking. The legs start to feel tired. Sweat beads start to form. I keep pressing on. I cross the finish line in 33:22 which for me, is lightening fast. I beat my best time my just under a full minute.

I sat down next to Brian just before the finish to cheer on my fellow runners and walkers. People from all walks of life and from all levels of fitness came out to enjoy the beautiful weather, knowing that each step they take is doing something fantastic for their body and ultimately their community. Dads and daughters. Grandmas and grandkids. Elite athletes. Race walkers (how do they move their hips like that?!). It didn’t matter who they were, they all crossed that finish line with a smile on their face.

It’s a big week for me. I have my colonoscopy on Thursday to check the inflammation and stricture found about 6 months ago. Hopefully doubling my dose of Remicade has worked it’s magic and I can walk away with a clean bill of health. Updates to come soon.

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