So Easy a Caveman Can Do it? Well, Kinda.

Roughly six weeks ago I posted about how I was going to fully embrace the crossfit experience which included going Paleo(ish) – my version of Paleo eating.

To say I was nervous about how restrictive Paleo is is an understatement. Since I already eat clean, I’m used to quite a restrictive diet already but Paleo was taking away some of my beloved staples like grains, dairy and legumes.

paleo

Instead of freaking out and feeling like I couldn’t eat anything, I gave myself some wiggle room. I decided that it was ok to have one serving of dairy and/or grains a day with the intent of not eating any.  Remember, I was going Paleo{ish}. This wiggle room worked out great for me and I actually only ate a total of three servings of grains (no dairy) during the first two weeks and I was able to cut it out entirely.

the-paleo-diet11The first two weeks were definitely the most challenging.  So easy a caveman can do it? Ummmm, maybe.  But this modern, clean eating girl struggled.  I knew that I relied on grains, dairy and legumes heavily in my diet but I had no idea how much I relied on them.  During those first weeks I felt drained, like someone had stolen my batteries.  I was still doing short mid-week runs and Crossfit but the first time I went on a long run (10 miles) fueled the Paleo way, I tanked.  It was terrible and I felt super sick, light headed and my vision was a bit fuzzy; I ended up calling it quits after 8.75 miles for safety reasons.  As soon as I got back to my car and ate something I felt much better.  My system was lacking carbohydrates big time and just couldn’t sustain the energy my body needed for the run.

I did some research on how to properly fuel runs with Paleo and found lots of conflicting information. Joy. But there was at least one common recommendation: sweet potatoes. All my life, I have never liked sweet potatoes. I know *gasp*. But I knew if I really wanted to take this seriously, I would have to get used to them.  So I did some searching and found a recipe for sweet potato chips. {Enter my new found love for sweet potatoes.}

Once I discovered sweet potatoes, that kind of took care of my carb issue. It didn’t fix the feeling I had of being drained though.  I decided to track my calories one day using My Fitness Pal and I was shocked to see that I was 600 calories short for the day. Unfortunately, I had been unintentionally starving myself.  Even though I was eating a ton of food each day I realized what I had done was replace my higher calorie dairy, grains and legumes with lower calories vegetables and fruits. Whoops.

After doing some adjusting with my food, by week three and four I really felt like I hit my Paleo groove.  I started to see a few changes with my body; I noticed a bit more muscle tone and didn’t feel bloated like I often had.  I have always had some problematic acne on my back (bacne – ewwwww) and that cleared up as well.  Apparently I have a slight dairy or gluten allergy.  Also during weeks 3 & 4 I stopped missing my carbs and dairy which is something I never thought would happen.

So what did I eat? Whole foods.  LOTS of whole foods.  Eggs (9 dozen of them to be precise) were my go-to protein source. I had them for breakfast and snacks.

eggs egg 4 omelette scrambled eggs

Protein (esp. chicken) in just about every form you can imagine.

chicken

And an insane amount of fruits, vegetables and nuts.  The only pre-packaged food I ate was Larabars, canned nuts, some beef jerky and Vega’s Energizing Smoothie.

larabar

Vega

Oh, and I may have snuck a bite or two of some deliciously dark chocolate. Don’t judge…

chocolate

I discovered some pretty cool Paleo sites (PaleOMG and Nom Nom Paleo are fantastic for recipes).  I did some experimenting in the kitchen, found some new recipes I love and a few I hated. {side note: If you’re a blogger, PLEASE make sure your recipe is actually tasty like you say. It’s incredibly frustrating to waste good ingredients on a bad recipe.}

When I started Paleo eating, I had fully intended on returning to clean eating after the month ended.  However, it ended two weeks ago and I’m still going strong and don’t have any plans on going back to the grains and dairy.  I still have some tweaking that needs to be done (making sure I get enough calories & that I’m properly fueled for long runs), but I’m happy with this new Paleo(ish) lifestyle.

Question: Have you ever taken a challenge only to surprise yourself by continuing it once it’s over?

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45 thoughts on “So Easy a Caveman Can Do it? Well, Kinda.

  1. Holy smokes, Gina! Who would have thought?? 🙂

    This is so exciting to me and I am so proud of you for sticking it through! Isn’t it amazing how in tune with your body you get?

    You should check out runfastmama.com and her blog; she just added quinoa back into her diet, but has done half marathons eating paleo (and i think training for a marathon eating Paleo plus quinoa).. might give some tips on things to eat or how to fuel the longer runs.

    Congrats on the progress!!! And whooo muscle tone, what what! 😉

    • Thanks for the tip, Jen, I’ll definitely check out her blog. Training for marathon #3 starts up soon and I’m worried about staying entirely paleo for it. Hence the further tweaking needed. (I’m thinking oats / quinoa / possibly brown rice once a week.) And muscle tone…..I’m hoping for a 6 pack by the end of the year! Whoop whoop!

  2. No. LOL just being honest. I like sweet potatoes. I like grains like quinoa. so I try to eat as clean as I can with a combination of paleo tricks and gluten free ones too…but I cheat..i ain’t funna lie 😉

  3. Ciders are paleo! Yay! ;^) Strongbows are delicious and much lower calorie since they’re drier. I’m trying to dial in my nutrition and training prior to a marathon in October. Crossfit 3-4 times a week plus running requires fuel but I’m also still carrying belly fat that need to GO. Thanks for sharing your experiences thus far.

    • Yeeeeeeeees, thank you for this cider approved comment! 😉 Are you going to try to stay completely paleo during marathon training? I just worry about not having any excess glycogen stores to feed off of during the later miles. Sounds like we’ll be experimenting together during summer training!

  4. As I went Paleo-ish around the same time, I can say I have suffered all of the same missteps but I have also found that I have no desire to go back. I love that I can see more defined muscle tone in my body, and that I have learned not to rely on grains for dairy! I’m amazed!! I committed to 12 weeks and I’m on week 5 and loving it completely.

  5. I’ve been eating 90% Paleo since January with a month off where I realized how much better I felt while being Paleo. I will occasionally have some cheese and just started eating some Grass-fed yogurt as a protein packed snack since I was overdoing it with my nut consumption. I love Paleo OMG, Everyday Paleo, and Civilized Caveman for recipes. I have created a few yummy ones that I have posted on my blog but I’d have to say a favorite of everyone has been these Paleo Raspberry Chocolate Chip muffins that I promise are really good! http://myhealthyhappyhome.com/2013/04/17/paleomuffins/

    • Ooooooooooh, headed over right now to check out your recipe! I understand about eating too many nuts, I’ve been overdoing it in that area to up my fat intake. Going overboard with any food group isn’t ideal.

  6. I haven’t tried any food or fitness challenges but I should! It’s awesome that you stuck with the paleo diet, I am impressed! I eat steel cut oats for breakfast every morning, so I too love my grains and my dairy too! This would be a difficult diet for me, but at least it allows for eating eggs and I LOVE those!

    • Thanks, Leslie! Breakfast was actually the hardest meal for me to adjust, too. I was so used to getting up and grabbing cereal or cooking oats but once I got used to getting up earlier to actually make breakfast it was great.

  7. I love my oats and granolas so much, and i eat yogurt everyday! It would be tough to roll the paleo way! I do sub for almond milk and love coconut flour on the regular tho. Sweet potatoes are def one of my top three fave foods!! I guess i do eat paleoish but with lots of exceptions!!

    • I think we all have paleo tendencies, Jenna! And oats, granola & yogurt are still incredibly healthy. Don’t feel like you ever have to change your eating habits unless you want to! xoxoxo

  8. I’m already gluten-free so I usually don’t venture off to restrict my diet in other ways. BTW I love Woodchuck Cider! Have you ever tried the Summer Edition? It’s basically made from blueberries, it’s beyond delicious!!

  9. this is super interesting. I actually had a stomach doctor tell me I should try paleo eating to hopefully clear not only my constant stomach issues but a rash on my back. I just worry I won’t be able to survive… I am a sugar addict and know it. also – I don’t like sweet potatoes either, however chip form could clear that.

    • Nothing wrong with being a sugar addict. The fact that my skin cleared up almost instantly is enough for me to keep continuing the way I’m eating. It was an unexpected benefit. 🙂 Maybe you could give it a shot for 4 weeks to see if it helps with your digestive issues.

    • I was totally with you on the sweet potato hating but once I made them into savory chips, I was an instant convert. I’ve had Angry Orchard before but never Strongbow; I’m sensing a cider tasting coming on. 😉

  10. I’m glad you have found something that works for you. If it seems to be working, why change it you know? I have looked into paleo before but I think it’s too many restrictions and I def do not need that.

  11. How did the sweet potatoes work for your energy!? I am finding my energy GONE once I hit 5-6miles! It’s awful. I need to find the perfect food because I don’t think I am eating enough to fuel for my runs.

    • That’s part of what I need to tweak. The sweet potatoes keep me going for 4ish miles and then my energy starts to decrease. I haven’t tanked in a run like I did the first time but I definitely notice a measurable difference. I’m curious how I would feel if I ate a sweet potato the night before a long run (already doing) and then another one for breakfast. Worth a shot.

  12. I’m glad you found something that works for you and that you figured out your reason for ‘tanking’! Diet change + lots of running + not enough calories = one tired body! But you bounced back so yay! My grandma also doesn’t like sweet potatoes, but I love them especially with almond butter!

    • Yes, that equation (diet change/running/calorie deficit) was a horrible combo. So happy to have caught it (semi) early on. For dessert tonight I had a sweet tater sprinkled with cinnamon and topped with a tsp of almond butter. YUM!

  13. I’m glad you found that paleo works for you! I know the people who do it have said a lot of great things about it, especially the lack-of-bloating thing. I don’t eat dairy and I try to eat a lot of fruit and veggies, but I could never part with grains or legumes. Or potatoes, haha.

    • Yep, totally understand about the grains, legumes and potatoes. The way that you eat is perfectly healthy and if you’re happy with it, why change? I don’t think I would have tried paleo if my crossfit instructor hadn’t challenged me but I’m definitely glad I did.

  14. Wow – sounds like it was a great lifestyle change for you, and something that wouldn’t have been a huge leap given your clean-eating ways! I need to clean up my kitchen, and even though I don’t intend to hit paleo yet, you’ve definitely motivated me.

  15. mmm green & black’s….. i love how you’re incorporating the paleo diet into your life, and not the other way around. lifestyles should be personalized for each individual, and if you want to eat dairy, you should eat dairy! calcium, right? 😉

  16. I think I keep the sweet potato farmers in business. I am slowly easing my way into a paleo/gluten free diet thanks to my picky stomach :/ I’m glad that you’ve found what works and reaped the benefits. I have terrible skin – hopefully that is something I will see improvement in as well!

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