Things are great! For the past week, impending prohibition has energized me with a fervor to scarf down fistfuls of candy, soda and as many processed foods as possible.
Today, in fact, I had 10 chicken McNuggets, fries and a Coke, and it was absolutely delicious (and cheap!). Last night, I played poker with some buddies and drank beer and ate milk chocolate with a face of stone and watched my pile of chips fluctuate from plush to non-existent. Yes, I lost at poker, but the candy soothed my injured pride.
I've savored every bite and sip, because this Sunday, everything will change. Sunday, May 13, marks the start date for the five-week Paleo Diet Challenge at CrossFit Liberation, and it means the end of all processed foods, sugar, soda and legumes. You heard me—no legumes.
CrossFit Week 8
Good news. I'm getting pretty good at the kipping pull-up and can now do 20 consecutively. For those of you who don't know the move, it can be a little tricky. It takes some coordination with your hips, feet and arms to create enough momentum to kick-start yourself into a cycle, and in yesterday's WOD, the pull-up was the easiest part.
Here was the workout:
“20 Min Chelsea” (We did a set of these three exercises every minute for 20 minutes and took one-minute breaks when necessary):
- 5 Pull-Ups
- 10 Push-Ups (These crushed me. Everything else was a piece of cake.)
- 15 Squats
Since last week, I've adapted my workout schedule so that I'm not a twitching pile of bruised meat. I now go to CrossFit Liberation every other day, and it seems to be doing good things for my body. I'm able to rest up and replenish after exiting the self-perpetuating torture chamber, but—and here's how they get you—without it, I quickly start to feel funky. After two or three consecutive days away from the Box, I have sleep problems and the pent-up energy in my system is enough to power a yacht. In other words, does anyone want to go sailing for a day?
Caveman Diet! Just What Is the Paleo Challenge?
On Tuesday, CrossFit Liberation co-owner Carrie Ziniewicz gave 23 participants the lowdown on the Five-Week Paleo Diet Challenge. Why Paleo? Think of a Paleolothic man about 2.5 million years ago and what he and his extended family ate. It was mostly meat, veggies, some fruit and absolutely no Dr. Pepper or pizzas from the Italian Store. Back then the Italian Store was killing a wild animal and making some meatballs around the fire.
"I'm going to be honest with you guys," Carrie said. "You're going to probably feel some significant changes in the first seven-to-10 days of being on this diet. You're going to have a sugar crash. It's like heroin. If you get off of it you're going to feel withdrawal, particularly if you like sugar and breads. But that'll flip on you and soon you'll have more energy, less cravings and you'll lose fat and gain lean muscle."
That's right. I'm heading for a crash and if I'm going to go then it's going to be all-in. Pass the Skittles.
The Paleo challenge is a "whole foods approach to eating that eliminates modern processed foods and limits carbohydrate intake," according to a hand-out provided at CFL. "You should eat a diet high in fat, mostly from animal sources, moderate to high in animal protein (lean meats preferably) and low to moderate in natural carbohydrates coming from vegetables and fruits and you can include small amounts of nuts. The preferred fats should be saturated fats like coconut oil, lard, duck fat, nut butter, tallow as well as mono-unsaturated fats like extra-virgin olive oil and avocados."
The CFL Nutrition Challenge
On Sunday, I'll get my picture taken and have a body-fat analysis.
- Diet: I must adhere strictly to paleo/primal diet guideines and earn points for doing so.
- Score Log: I must maintain a daily food, sleep, exercise and stress log to track progress (provided by CFL).
- CrossFit: I must participate in WODs at CFL at least 3-5 times per week and earn points for doing so.
- Sleep: Get eight hours of sleep per night.
- Weekly Status Calls: I'll participate in weekly or bi-monthly status calls on Sunday to weigh in, measure inches lost, review score cards, discuss/share recipes and vote and award bonus points.
Fifteen Rules of the Paleo Diet
- The Paleo diet should be high in fat, moderate to high in animal protein, and low to moderate in carbohydrates. Calorie counting is not encouraged, neither is portion control.
- Eat unlimited amounts of saturated fats like coconut oil and nut butter or clarified butter. Beef tallow, lard and duck fat are also good, but only if they come from healthy and well-treated animals. Beef or lamb tallow is a better choice than lamb or duck fat. Olive, avocado and macadamia oil are also good fats to use in salads and to drizzle over food, but not for cooking.
- Eat generous amounts of animal protein. This includes red meat, poultry, pork, eggs, organs (liver, kidney, heart…), wild caught fish and shellfish. Don’t be scared to eat the fatty cuts and all meals with proteins should contain fat as well. Learn to cook with bones in the form of stocks and broths.
- Eat good amounts of fresh or frozen vegetables either cooked or raw and served with fat. Starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes and yams are also great as a source of non-toxic carbohydrates (in moderation).
- Eat low to moderate amounts of fruits and nuts. Try to eat mostly fruits low in sugar and high in antioxidants like berries as well as nuts high in omega-3, low in omega-6 and low in total polyunsaturated fat like macadamia nuts. Consider cutting off fruits and nuts altogether if you have an autoimmune disease, digestive problem or are trying to lose weight faster.
- Preferably choose pasture-raised and grass-fed meat coming from a local, environmentally conscious farm. If not possible, choose lean cuts of meat and supplement your fat with coconut oil, butter or clarified butter. Also preferably choose organic, local and/or seasonal fruits and vegetables.
- Cut out all gluten, cereal grains and legumes from your diet. This includes, but is not limited to, wheat, rye, barley, oats, corn, brown rice, soy, peanuts, kidney beans, pinto beans, navy beans and black eyed peas.
- Cut out all vegetable, hydrogenated and partly-hydrogenated oils including, but not limited to, margarines, soybean oil, corn oil, crisco, peanut oil, canola oil, safflower oil and sunflower oil. Olive oil and avocado oil are fine, but don’t cook with them; use them in salad dressings and to drizzle over prepared food.
- Eliminate sugar, soft drinks, all packaged products and juices (including fruit juices). As a rule of thumb, if it’s in a box, don’t eat it. At the grocery store, visit only the meat, fish and produce sections. Eliminate dairy products other than butter and maybe heavy cream. You don’t need dairy, but if you can’t live without, then consider raw, organic full-fat and/or fermented dairy.
- Eat when you’re hungry and don’t stress if you skip a meal or even two. You don’t have to eat three square meals a day; do what feels most natural.
- Eliminate as many sources of external stress in your life as possible, and sleep the most you can. Try to wake up without an alarm and to go to bed when it’s dark.
- Don’t over-exercise; keep your training sessions short and intense and do them only a few times per week.
- Take some extra time off if you feel tired. Consider short and intense sprinting sessions instead of very long cardio sessions. (CrossFit is ideal).
- Consider supplementing with fish oil, vitamin D, and probiotics. Levels of magnesium, iodine and vitamin K2 should also be optimized. Iodine can be obtained from seaweeds. You probably don’t need multivitamin or other supplements.
- Play in the sun, have fun, laugh, smile, relax, discover, travel, learn and enjoy life like a daring adventure!
Incidentally, since we have four weeks left in the CrossFit Liberation experience, we're going to extend it one week to finish the Paleo challenge. Expect five more CrossFit columns.