Some call it a fad diet, the Crossfit cult calls it a lifestyle, but me? I call it hard.
The Paleo Diet, the Crossfit diet that has taken the fitness industry, and now the diet industry by storm. I first tried it in the summer of 2010 after I had been Crossfitting for a year, and yes, I lost 15lbs and gained a great set of abs, but I also cried in Whole Foods because I was hungry and didn’t know how to deal with switching my diet from a “normal” person’s diet to an all health, no wiggle room lifestyle.
“I’ve been eating the same thing since I started: eggs, chicken, shrimp, veggies, and salad.”
Last week, my little brother told his friend to contact me about paleo. She wrote to me, “I’ve been eating the same thing since I started: eggs, chicken, shrimp, veggies, and salad.” I laughed, not at her, but at the memories of my first paleo stint and after 2.5 years of on and off paleo-ing, I find myself to be quite knowledgable now. I can take pretty much anything I love to eat and figure out a paleo recipe. Meatloaf? I’ve got it. Spaghetti? Got that, too. I don’t cry in Whole Foods anymore, and I’ve even started eating salad.
“I was the ‘girl on the crazy diet’…”
The problem I had with my first round of paleo was that I didn’t know how to be paleo and have fun. I would eat a paleo dinner before I went out with my friends, and drink water at bars. I was the “girl on the crazy diet”, and although my friends were jealous of my abs, I was jealous of the life I was missing. Vodka tonics were out of the question, and so was the queso I had learned to enjoy so much.
So how can you eat paleo and still be a normal, fun person?
Here’s 10 tips:
- Ask for a gluten-free menu: Pretty much every restaurant has a gluten-free menu, as gluten intolerance is on the rise. If you don’t want to inform everyone at the table you’re on a diet, just say you think you have a gluten intolerance. NOTE: Gluten free does not automatically mean paleo, but it makes it a lot easier. Or always make your friends go for mexican…they love the queso, you can order fajitas sans tortillas with tequila on the rocks, extra lime. That’s what I call fun paleo!
- You aren’t crazy, you’re exhausted: What you haven’t realized until now is that EVERYTHING you have been eating is laced with sugar. Spaghetti sauce? Laced with sugar. Chicken from a fast food restaurant? Laced with sugar. You body is working twice as hard to burn your fat, turn it into sugar, and use it for energy. 2 weeks and you’ll feel great, but those 2 weeks will be hell.
- Learn to love tequila: On the rocks. It sounds really hard-core, and a mild alcoholic’s bevvie of choice, but if you order a good tequila, like Herradura, and on the rocks it waters it down. Add 3 limes and it tastes like a margarita. You also get less of a hangover the next day, just limit yourself to 3 MAX.
- Sweet Potatoes: Luckily sweet potatoes are really trendy and everywhere serves them. But anywhere you would use regular potatoes, just sub sweet potatoes. Mashed. Fries. Baked. #nomnomnom
- Strict 30, then 80/20: I love paleo, I think it is a super healthy way to live, but I also know that cavemen died at the age of 20-something and modern foods do have things we need to eat in them (another reason why barefoot running is a joke, but I digress.) I suggest starting with 30 strict days, then going 80% paleo, 20% not-paleo. You also need to cheat because if you don’t you will resort back to your old life. A few cheats a week aren’t going to kill you or your diet, just go for good cheats, aka the gluten-free ones.
- Use Pinterest: Search “paleo” and you get a wealth of recipes and ideas. I even have a Paleo board, follow it on Pinterest.
- Blogs, Blogs and more blogs: There are SO many great paleo blogs, like nomnompaleo.com, paleomg.com, everydaypaleo.com, paleocomfortfoods.com, and basically any crossfit gym’s website, like btbfitness.com.
- Be prepared: This is one thing paleo actually taught me about myself, I’m never prepared. I always complain about not having a jacket because I didn’t check the weather, but if you’re unprepared on paleo, you’re starving and miserable, and you will resort to eating something REALLY unhealthy. Carry nuts everywhere (and peanuts are not nuts FYI), and try to use a weekend afternoon to cook a TON of food. Lately, I make a homemade spaghetti sauce and put it in the fridge, along with some meats cooked up, and a breakfast bake. This morning I had 10 minutes to get ready, so I grabbed a slice of my bacon & egg breakfast bake, a bottle of water, and the chicken and spaghetti sauce I made on Saturday. I’m set for the day and all in under 2 minutes. I know what you’re thinking, “I don’t have the friggen time to do that, Donna. I’m BUSY!!!” Well, stop the glorification of busy, as I am trying to do. I work 7 days a week, write a blog, freelance on the side, find time to work out, have the boy in my life and take care of my dog. No, I don’t have kids, but if you knew my dog you’d realize I have a much bigger problem than a child.
- Find a way: I can’t live without pizza. I just can’t, and usually use it as my really bad cheat, but when I’m strictly on paleo, I still make pizza. How? I take the time to find a recipe for cauliflower crust or a meatza. Or what about meatloaf? It has breadcrumbs, but you can insert spinach into the mix that will hold it together, but make it 100% paleo. Cookies? Almond flour. Milk? Almond milk. Pancakes? Bananas. Soda? Shit outta luck, sorry.
- Give yourself room to fail: When I first did paleo, it was part of a competition, and if I won, I got $2000. What 23-year-old couldn’t use $2000? I was going to win, and I almost did. The challenge drove me crazy, and it drove me to eat pizza for days after it ended. Had I cheated a few times during the first 45 days, I wouldn’t have eaten the pizza the day before the competition ended and lost. I also wouldn’t have gained back the 10lbs and then some.
These days I focus on making sure I’m eating healthier, on the paleo side of life, but having queso and chips on friday night with friends. After a year of injuries, I gained 20 lbs, but I’m headed back down the road of healthy living. If you have specific questions, feel free to facebook, tweet or e-mail me!