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?

Advertisements

Weekly Workout Recap

First things first, good luck to all the wicked fast runnahs conquering Boston today! You all amaze and inspire me!

I’m still trying to get into some sort of groove with my exercise.  Since starting CrossFit I honestly feel a bit lost with my workouts these past two weeks and I’m logging some of my lowest miles in over a year and a half.  Now when I started CrossFit I knew that my running would be put on the back burner but I didn’t count on how much I would miss my runs.

I think part of the problem is that I haven’t set myself up on a new training plan since running my last marathon in February.  I thought I would like the flexibility of no plan, but I really thrive on structure.  This week, I’m going to make an effort to come up with something a bit more concrete with my workouts; find a better balance between running and CrossFit.

I’ve also realized through crossfit how stiff my body is.  I don’t know if it’s a lack of running or just lack of consistent yoga but I am horribly tight.  In an effort to loosen myself up in the morning and also work on improving my technique, I’ve created a mini am circuit to do each day this week.  I’m curious to see if I’ll notice any benefits with my flexibility and technique after this week.

workouts (edited)

Without further adieu, my workouts from last week.

Monday: Yoga

Tuesday: 2.5 mile warmup, Crossfit (rowing & pushpresses)

Wednesday: Weights – upper body (biceps, triceps, deltiods)

Thursday: Yoga, Crossfit  (wall balls, pushups, and a feeble attempt at rope climbing)

Friday: 13 mile kayak trip with my hubby ❤

Saturday: 8.75 mile run

Sunday:Rainy, lazy day.  (Love thunderstorms!)

Saturday was actually supposed to be a 10 mile run but I wasn’t properly fueled; my energy tanked and I started feeling a bit woozy.  I even took a gel at mile 5 to keep me going but it didn’t help a ton.  Usually I don’t have to fuel at all on 10 mile runs.  Long runs and lack of fuel was one of my concerns with switching to a Paleo(ish) diet so I’m really going to have to make an effort to research various whole foods to get my glycogen levels up.

So even though my workouts were less than stellar, I actually had an amazing weekend.  Lots of fun in the sun and quality time with my hubby.  It doesn’t get much better than that!

download

kayak

My view all day Friday.

kayak 2

Question:  What activities do you like to do with your significant other, family or friends?

Going Paleo(ish)

When in Rome, do as the Romans do….Right?  We’ve all heard that statement before but it’s one of those universally (ok, at least in America) recognized phrases that applies to just about anything.  Right now for me, my “Rome” is CrossFit and the Romans are….wait for it….CrossFitters. You totally didn’t see that coming, did you?

Janice

One handed rope climbs? I will not be doing like this Roman crossfitter anytime soon.
This is my instructor Janice. She’s a total beast – even with a broken hand/arm.

During this month, I really want to embrace the whole CrossFit experience, not just bits and pieces of it.  Afterall, how can I know if I really like or dislike something without having given it a fair shot.  A big part of the CrossFit lifestyle is the way that they eat. Paleolithic style or Paleo for short.  Now, I realize that not every CFer follows a Paleo diet, but it seems like most do. So when my CF instructor challenged us to reduce (not eliminate) our dairy and grain intake, I accepted. I dig challenges.

For those of you who might not be familiar with Paleo, the short and sweet definition is that  it’s basically caveman type eating.

the-paleo-diet11source

Think primal, hunter-gatherer type stuff.  Meat, vegetables, fruits, nuts and BACON.  Oh wait, bacon’s not a food group… Whatever, it should be.  The graphic below gives you a pretty good idea about Paleo.

paleo

We all know that I eat clean, so getting rid of the processed stuff isn’t a huge deal for me.  But what you don’t know is that a HUGE part of my clean diet consists of the first three bullets on the “don’t eat list.” I typically eat anywhere from 3-5 servings of dairy a day, 4-6 servings of grains (cereal, pasta, brown rice), and at least 1 serving of legumes a day. I don’t really eat a lot of meat….until now. *gulp*

So where the Paleo(ish) comes into play? A bit of background first for context.  In the past, I have had the tendency to go off the deep end with my eating habits, unfortunately, in an unhealthy way.  I’ve learned if I put food on the restricted list, it almost instantly becomes an enemy.  Something I can’t have or shouldn’t have because it will “hurt” me.  It can make me feel like I’m back into a corner. I get anxiety if I eat restricted food, or, even worse, to avoid anxiety in the past, I just wouldn’t eat. {side note: My not eating didn’t have anything to do with weight loss.  It was completely because I didn’t want to put “bad” food into me.}

That mindset is completely, totally, 100% unhealthy.  But I know this about me and that I have a tendency to think that way so in an effort to avoid potentially leading myself down that path, I am going Paleo(ish).  I am not outlawing dairy, grains and legumes.  Instead, what I’m committing to is allowing myself one serving of each per day.  I am going to try to not eat them at all, but if I do, I know that they aren’t “bad” and I haven’t done anything wrong by eating them. No guilt, no shame.  Just a happy and healthy Gina.

Life is all about finding the right balance that works for you.  I’m not convinced Paleo is the most healthy lifestyle but I’m going to give it a chance.  I really need to research it and I know there are a ton of great reads on the market right now like It Starts With Food.

ISWF-Cover-Header-Food4

I started my Paleo(ish) journey 1 1/2 weeks ago and so far I have had no problems.  At first I was a bit sad every time I opened my fridge and was greeted by my organic milk and plethora of Chobani flavors but after a week, I’ve really gotten the hang of it.  I think the transition was a bit easier for me since I eat clean.  I didn’t have to worry about sugar withdrawals or anything like that.

I’m excited to see how the rest of the month plays out.  The thing I’m looking forward to most is seeing how the increase in protein effects my muscles.  However, in my heart I know that once May hits, I’ll return to clean eating.  A different form of clean eating though, I don’t see myself reintroducing a ton of dairy and grains back into my diet.  Now beans, I’ll be bringing those back with a vengeance.  I love ’em! Beans, beans the magical fruit, the more you eat…. (HA, I know you just finished that sentence in your head.  You’re welcome.)

Question:  Have you ever gone Paleo? Did you stick with it or reintroduce some of the restricted foods back into your life?

Shredded Chicken with Fire Roasted Tomatoes and Spinach

To follow up on Wednesday’s Confessions of a Clean Eater post, I thought I’d {finally} post a recipe.  Hope y’all enjoy!

I love chicken.  I also love my Crockpot.  So any recipe that marries the two is genius in my opinion.  Throw in the fact that the recipe is clean and it’s a perfect trifecta! I found this recipe last year over at The Gracious Pantry and fell in love with the simplicity of it.  Now, the original recipe called for only four ingredients but if you know me, you know that I can’t leave well enough alone in the kitchen….so the recipe below is my tweaked version.  You can find the four ingredient version here.  Just as a heads-up, this recipe makes a lot.

Shredded Chicken with Fire Roasted Tomatoes and Spinach

Ingredients:

My cast of characters.

  • 1 package of chicken breast (about 4 breasts or 1lb)
  • 16oz frozen spinach
  • 18oz spaghetti sauce (or ¾ a regular 24oz jar)
  • (2) 14.5oz cans of fire roasted tomatoes (I used Muir Glen)
  • ¼ bag of baby carrots (chopped)
  • 5 cloves of garlic (whole)
  • 1tsp Italian seasoning
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • Brown rice

Directions:

Combine all of the ingredients in your Crockpot except for the brown rice.  I’m slightly OCD sometimes so I like to layer things but seriously, it all ends up the same so just throw it in the pot.  Set the temperature on low and let it cook for 6-8 hours.

Where the magic happens.

45 minutes before you’re ready to eat, prepare your brown rice according to package directions.  Go ahead and shred your chicken while the rice is cooking and place it back in the Crockpot until the rice is done.  Once your rice is cooked, grab a bowl, add as much rice as you want, top with the chicken and enjoy!

Time saver tip:  Prepare the brown rice the day before and store it in the fridge.  It always reheats perfectly.  All you have to do when you get home from work is shred the chicken and reheat the rice.

Riley is NOT a fan of Crockpot meals because she has to smell it all day.

This dish is completely customizable so feel free to play with the ingredients.  I love the carrots in it because they provide a pop of sweetness but if that’s not your thing, leave them out.  Not a fan of spinach? I’ve substituted frozen kale before and it tasted great; the flavor was a bit earthier and the kale provided a little more crunch than spinach.  Looking for something Paleo friendly? Skip the brown rice and eat just the chicken mixture.  It really is up to you and your taste buds.

I love this meal so much not only because of the flavor but also because of the nutritional wallop it packs.  It’s low in fat (virtually fat free) and the chicken provides a great source of protein.  You get the cancer-fighting antioxidant lycopene along with potassium, vitamins C, K, B6 & A from the tomatoes.  From the spinach you get vitamins A, C, calcium and iron, and the carrots provide Beta-Carotene, vitamins C and K.  Annnnnnnd from the garlic…. You get bad breath – ha!

Happy noshing!!