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Guest Post: The Paleo Lifestyle

I’m a strong believer that each body has different needs and requirements. From allergies and intolerances, to dietary preferences, to work and sleep habits. Both our lives and our bodies dictate how we should fuel ourselves, and listening to your body is something that you need to learn to do. And that’s why I believe in trying different diets. Not diets as in crash diets – diets as in lifestyle changes that allow you to experience different ways of eating, that give you the opportunity to discover the best and healthiest lifestyle for yourself.

Personally I’ve tried a number of different diets and excluded various foods over the years, from high raw to mostly vegan to gluten-free. I want to feel my best every day – I want to sleep well, wake up rested & not need caffeine to open my eyes, have energy throughout the day, not suffer from headaches, and be alert & able to concentrate. And believe me when I say that it can be a long journey of trial and error to determine what foods will give you all of that.

Today I’m here to introduce Kyle Lawlor, one of the co-authors of the Tumblr blog Eat. Drink. Paleo – Two foodies who fell in love and are now transitioning to a Paleo lifestyle. If you look up “Paleo Diet” in wikipedia or check out the Paleo Diet website you can get a full list of do’s and don’ts, what you can  and can’t eat, and why the Paleo supporters think that their lifestyle is the best choice out there. But what those websites won’t/can’t/don’t tell you is how this lifestyle will make you feel, how hard the transition is, what the noticeable benefits and downsides are, and how you will feel on a daily basis.

But Kyle can.

This is his story of discovering Paleo eating, making the transition, joining CrossFit, and how those choices have affected his daily life and outlook:

My journey to a healthy paleo lifestyle has taken far longer than I wish it would. I look back and kick myself for not doing this sooner but as is constant with me, I have to do everything in my own time or I will never stick to anything. I came across the Paleo Lifestyle when I joined American River CrossFit in July 2011. At the time I weighed 280lbs and I still (unfortunately) stand only 5’8 ½”. I was out of shape. I was constantly out of breath from even the simplest of tasks. I didn’t sleep well. I snored like a band saw. And worst of all, I looked terrible! When I started at CrossFit it was terrible. My body hadn’t felt so sore since JV Spring Training for football. My quads hurt, my back was tight, and my shoulders felt like they would drop off at any moment. The funny thing is that at first, a lot of what I was doing in CrossFit was just moving myself. My first month involved very little weight training, except for my own 280lbs. But I stuck with it and kept going. Soon I started seeing improvements. My clothes began fitting better and the pain I felt after workouts transitioned into soreness. The only problem was that my gut didn’t go anywhere and the scale hadn’t changed much. The reason was a simple one, one that I never really shared with neither my trainers at the Box nor my girlfriend, Rochelle. Every night after attending the 6pm class at ARCFIT and working my ass off I would stop at Wendy’s or Taco Bell on my way home and demolish a couple bucks worth of fake food before pulling into my drive way. THEN I would go inside and eat the dinner Rochelle would have prepared for us. To understand why I did this we need to take a quick trip down memory lane.

Fast forward to February 2012! I read The Paleo Solution by Robb Wolf and it changes my life. I had been living a 20% Paleo lifestyle at best while trying to work my ass off at CrossFit. Unfortunately, as we are fond of saying at ARCFIT “you can’t out train a shit diet”. It is so incredibly true! Somehow I expected that if I worked out an hour a day twice a week that gave me permission to eat whatever the hell I wanted. February was a great month for me because it was the start of a lot of life changes for me. The first was the 30 day Paleo challenge Rochelle and I began. We cut out all the grain, all the dairy, all the sugar and all the legumes. And at first it was awesome! NOT! It sucked! But, after the first week and a half all the cravings were gone. Then the amazing things started happening. I began feeling better. I was sleeping the whole night through with much less snoring then before (much to Rochelle’s delight), my pants started literally falling off of me because they were too big, and not to get gross but my bowel movements were noticeably healthier and less frequent than I was accustomed. All in all, my body was beginning to heal the wrongs I had done to it for 24 years.

What I have come to realize over the last year, specifically in the last 4 months, is that through taking care of myself I have become a happier person. 6 months ago, someone who knew me well might consider me a good friend but hateful of just about everyone else on the planet, and that’s putting it mildly. To be plain, I had been unhappy with my life for the past few years, and despite being moderately intelligent I could not see that the problem was staring back at me every time I went to McDonald’s for breakfast, Jack in the Box for lunch and perhaps Taco Bell for dinner. These foods had a hold on me. If I’m honest, I’d say they still do. While I rarely, if ever, crave some kind of fake burger from a fast food joint, I know that if I succumb to weakness at any time and have one I will be hooked once again.

When Rochelle and I began the 30 day Challenge in February, I didn’t think it would stick. I figured I would find someway of returning to old habits. However, since we decided to eat only the foods listed in the 30 Day sample menus I was stuck. I would actually have to follow the rules on this one and see where I could go.

My life is much different now. I do my best to go to the gym 5 days a week and I don’t drink as often or as much as I used to. I wake up at 6:30am, which is early when you consider the fact that I don’t have to be at work until 10am every day. I look at the WOD (Workout Of the Day in CrossFit speak), weigh myself, prepare myself to leave the house and head to the gym for the 7am class. When I get to the gym I feel like hell. My body and mind haven’t quite adjusted to being upright yet, there’s usually loud music on and in a couple of minutes someone I consider a friend is going to tell me to go run around the building, row 1000 meters, do pushups, or wall balls, or air squats, double-unders, burpees, and what the hell go run around the building again. At that point I’m warmed up. My morning headache is gone, my back has loosened up, and my hips are just about opened to where I need them to be in order to do whatever is planned for the day. Depending on the program I’m on there will be skill work before the WOD (ie pull ups or muscle ups) or weight lifting and then the WOD. I do my best on skill work and WODs, sometimes do a second WOD, foam roll, then drive home. The maximum amount of time I am ever at the gym is 2 hours, and those are days when I’m bored and Rochelle hasn’t given me a honey do list while I’m off on a weekday.

Time for some real honesty. Life happens, accept you may eat off diet and adjust accordingly (ie work your ass off the rest of the week) Sometimes you’re at your mom’s place and she’s making spaghetti and meatballs. You clean the plate and ask for seconds. Also, sometimes you’re in a hurry and forget your lunch. Does that mean you get to hit up McDonald’s for a Big Mac? NO! Think smarter. Is there a Thai restaurant near your work? If so, do what Rochelle does when she forgets lunch, call them up, order a red curry with beef, no rice, go back to your desk and eat something delicious and most likely entirely paleo. No Thai place? Craving fake Mexican food? Chipotle. I know, it is all that is wrong with this country but sometimes you want to eat fake Mexican food. A burrito bowl with no rice and beans will do the trick. Smile and ask politely for the person behind the counter to hook you up on peppers and onions. You like real Mexican food? Fine, hit up that taqueria by your work and grab a half pound of carnitas with a side of guac. No, you don’t need to order the rice, beans or tortillas! And finally, what about a good old American hamburger? All I can say God bless In N Out and Habit burger for lettuce wrapping their burgers, they can be a life saver! Have I done all these things? Yep! Am I proud of it? Not really, but I’m still going to eat and live my life. The difference is now when I eat things that are absolutely terrible for me, my mentality is different. Gone are the days when pasta made me think wistful thoughts of Rome. Now all I can think about is how much I just poisoned my body and how soon I can get it out of me. Funny how much things can change in 4 months.

 

My girlfriend and I constantly talk about how different my life has become in the last 4 months, none of it negative, and the one thing we always point out is that it started with my nutrition. When I got serious my life got better. Now I don’t usually like to look to the divine in such moments, but the timing sure is coincidental.

Please note that this is a shortened version of Kyle’s article, you can see the unabridged version here which includes great recipes and more details about Paleo eating.

Please note that neither Kyle nor I are a doctor, dietitian, or nutritionist. I recommend speaking with a professional prior to making any dramatic changes to your lifestyle, diet, or exercise regime to ensure that any changes you make are done safely.

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Health & Your Relationship

When I read Rachel Wilkerson’s How CrossFit Has Helped My Relationship it got me thinking.

A lot.

Rachel said that by encouraging her boyfriend to take up a healthy hobby – in this instance CrossFit – their relationship ultimately benefited despite the fact that in the end it actually meant less alone time. I have no trouble at all believing this. In my experience, if there’s a substantial disconnect between how much two people value health & nutrition in their lives it can potentially lead to problems down the road.

I don’t believe that you need have all the same views, do the same workouts, or approach food the same way. But if only one person takes their health seriously and devotes time, energy, and effort to maintaining said health, the other individual may become resentful, jealous, threatened etc. Or things can go the other way around and as one person becomes healthier and more fit they begin to pity, worry about, and/or neglect their partner.

Take a look at this piece by the Primal Parent entitled When Good Health Destroys a Marriage. It’s written from the perspective of a woman who changed her diet and was feeling her best, while her husband was… Not. Ultimately their marriage couldn’t survive because she has a strong, well-tested belief in the importance of good health & nutrition, and refused to settle for someone who couldn’t – or wouldn’t – put forth the effort to investigate improving his own health.

Kyle

{Kyle & Rochelle – The authors of Eat Drink Paleo}

If you can find someone who shares your views, that’s fantastic – like my friend Kyle & his lady-love who write the oh-so-entertaining Eat. Drink. Paleo – Two foodies who fell in love and are now transitioning to a paleo lifestyle. But at a minimum you need to show an interest in the other’s routines and goals, and be able to talk about and share your successes and failures.

Take my relationship for example, on the surface my boyfriend and I have virtually opposite views on all facets of fitness and nutrition:

  • He eats an incredibly regimented high protein, low carb diet composed primarily of chicken, eggs, and vegetables which he tracks on a daily basis. I eat a mostly vegan, gluten-free, high raw diet.
  • He does intermittent fasting – meaning that he doesn’t eat until early afternoon & only eats three meals a day. While I eat at least every two hours after my 4am wakeup time.
  • He follows a lifting schedule & does CrossFit-style workouts that leave him wheezing, covered in bruises, scrapes, and rope burns, and stress his nervous system for days. I run, do circuit workouts & go to Pilates, martial arts & boxing classes.
  • His ultimate goal with his work outs and eating regime is to retain & increase strength while dropping body fat. I’m only interested in being healthy and not having daily back pain.

Pretty different, right? But the truth is that those are fairly superficial differences – underneath it all we’re both incredibly passionate about health and fitness, and that’s what really matters.

We love going for walks & hikes, cooking, eating, going to the farmer’s market, and planning our meals and workouts for the week, and most of all, we love debating our positions on these topics. If you looked through our emails, Facebook messages, Tweets, and text logs you’d find photos of our meals, new recipes to try, books to add to our Amazon basket, articles to read, great blogs we’ve found, documentaries & movies to add to our Netflix queue, and questions about what we’ve eaten, what workouts we’ve done, and how far we’ve walked that day.

Every day.

{Hers vs His}

It doesn’t matter that we’re not spending our days doing the same things, what matters is that we both approach our lives with a profound respect for our bodies, what we put them through, and how we fuel them. Yes, we debate topics like veganism versus paleo eating, different types of fat, which oils to use in cooking, fasting, detox programs & cleanses, and strength training. Yes, sometimes I question his sanity when he comes home with his hands shredded from doing hundreds of pull-ups or muscle-ups or toes-to-bars. But mostly, we just talk about it.

Our shared passion for health and nutrition was not what brought us together 12 years ago, nor is it what has kept up together, but it does give us something to talk about and share every single day. And because it’s important to us both, we appreciate the other’s routines and ambitions, even though they’re different.

Like Rachel said:

One more lovely side effect of the fitness revival: Eric and I are back to bonding through nerdy, fitness-related conversations. (We’re also bonding over our sore muscles.) I’m really enjoying little things like talking about our workouts and progress, discussing an article about diet or exercise, trying new healthy foods together, or going shoe shopping for new athletic shoes.

You don’t need to be 100% in sync with your partner, you just need to be with someone who has the same appreciation and respect for health and fitness as you do. Added bonus if it becomes something that you can share and bond over!

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Friday Links + Giveaway Fun

Before we get down to the Friday Links, I want to remind everyone to submit an entry for the Spring 2012 MCLV Giveaway! It’s easy to enter, just pick one of the four ways to enter listed in the Giveaway post, and you could win a $50 gift certificate to Bloomingdale’s. Just tell me what you’re looking forward to for Spring…

Good luck!

Health/Fitness:

Do you like to have a cup of coffee before your morning workout? Read Christopher Williams’s article on the Robb Wolf blog Caffeine & Performance about the relationship between physical performance and your daily caffeine consumption.

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Need some new ideas for healthy breakfasts? OhSheGlows has the goods, from desserty goodness like Chocolate Cake Batter Overnight Oats (OH YUM) to fresh Spring produce filled Blueberry Vanilla Banana Soft Serve Overnight Oats.

Have you tried nutritional yeast yet? Personally I like to use it instead of cheese as a topping when I cook and love it in vegan cheese sauces, but it has even more uses. Interested in learning more? Check out One Green Planet’s Nutritional Yeast: Health Benefits, Tips & Recipes.

With the new Reebok backing, CrossFit is becoming even more mainstream. Are you interested in learning how CrossFit style workouts can potentially improve your health and tone your body? (You can even see my experiences here: Do you… CrossFit? My Personal CrossFit & How To Survive A CrossFit Meet)

Don’t have time for a full HIIT or Tabata cardio workout? Still hit the gym, jumping rope is a phenomenal workout and only takes minutes! Check out Jackie Warner’s 5 Favorite Jump Rope Moves from FitSugar.

Fashion:

Best Spring Bags 2012

Not sure what bag to invest in for Spring? FabSugar and Refinery 29 both have a gorgeous list of options for you – from Phillip Lim and Diane Von Furstenberg to Club Monaco and Zara.

Brave enough to try printed pants for Spring? Mama’s A Rolling Stone has done the leg work for you – Top Buys: Printed Jeans. Need some more convincing? See how Olivia Palermo and Jessica Alba make this trend work oh-so-well for them.

I found Refinery 29’s 29 of Fashion’s Biggest Mysteries, Solved! pretty interesting to read. From reality show myths debunked to background on prints, fashion insiders and brands.

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In the mood for some more DIY? Check out this super easy & stylish decoupage tray from Refinery 29.

While I’ve never seen The Rachel Zoe Project, I do have to say that I love Rachel’s styling for clients as well as her personal style. Check out FabSugar’s segment: In Dress Distress? Rachel Zoe Answers Your Most Frequently Asked Styling Questions.

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Links You’ll Love

Fashion:

Are you as sick of skinny jeans as I am these days? I love the silhouette of a slim pant with a tunic, oversized sweater or cropped jacket on top, but the worn-to-death trend of skinny jeans is making me mad! The Stylist is here to help though, with 7 Alternatives to Skinny Blue Jeans.

Poppy Delevingne Style

Looks like I’m not the only one in awe of Poppy Delevingne’s personal style, see FabSugar’s One To Watch: Poppy Delevingne’s Fun, Fearless Style Has Us Hooked, Hello!’s Fashion Week favourite Poppy shows off her street savvy or Harper’s Bazaar – BAZAAR Boards: Poppy’s Chic Coat Tricks.

Ever wondered just how Chanel does it? Take a look at Lucky Magazine’s Watch the Chanel Team Make a Little Black Jacket. Or if you’re more interested in the man behind Chanel check out the Harper’s Bazaar piece My List: Karl Lagerfeld In 24 Hours. What did I learn?

Ready for Spring shopping? Watch Prada’s new “Real Fantasies” video lookbook staring Jessica Stam, Ginta Lapina, and Lindsey Wixson or H&M’s Spring 2012 campaign featuring the beautiful Sasha Pivovarova, Natasha Poly, Isabeli Fontana, and Anais Mali.

Health/Fitness:

March is National Nutrition Month so take a look at some great articles that will give you new perspective on what eating healthy means to you:

Need some motivation to get you moving? Literally? Check out Holly Would If She Could’s 5 Jedi Mind Tricks For Kickstarting A New Fitness Routine.

Smoothies are a great way to pack protein and nutrients into your breakfast and start your day right – see my Smoothie Love post for my favorite smoothie recipes and a breakdown on some of the great, healthy ingredients you can add. If you’re not a fan of bananas and think that limits your smoothie choices, think again! Check out Gena from Choosing Raw’s Avocado and Berry Smoothie: Banana-less Smoothie Take I. Need more ideas or inspiration? Read FitSugar’s Green Juice & Smoothie Recipes and Vega creator Brendan Brazier’s Smoothiology 101: Saving the Planet 1 Smoothie at a Time.

The Huffington Post’s 8 Ways To Become An Optimist and Marc and Angel Hack Life’s 30 Things To Start Doing For Yourself both seem to support my personal decision to Be Positive this year. I’ve also been trying to read and/or participate in Polish My Crown’s Thankful Thursdays. Do you think positivity and optimism can improve your enjoyment of life?

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Links You’ll Love

Health/Fitness:

Interested in the Paleo dieting craze that’s especially popular in CrossFit circles but intimidated by the all of the meat cooking? Try reading Whole 9 Life’s Paleo Nutrition For Vegetarians and Vegans.

Want to make sure that you’re getting all of the necessary nutrients each day and choosing the healthiest foods that you can? Check out The Organic Authority’s list of The 8 Most Nutrient Dense Foods On Earth or even FitSugar’s 5 Ways To Green Up With Spirulina.

Trying to boost your immune system as the season of colds is upon us? Read Peta Prime’s Eat Avocados, Fight Off Superbugs?

Sleeping trouble? Are there lights on in your bedroom? Cell phone, computer, DVD player… Read Sleep, Sleep, Sleep! How artificial lighting and cortisol impact zzz’s

Does exercise keep your brain running?

Not a fan of mid-day workouts? They might improve your performance at work! The New York Times: How Exercise Fuels the Brain.

Fashion:

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Boys, are you in the mood to mix up your standard suit & tie look? Check out Fashion Indie’s The Craziest Bow Ties You’ll See or Refinery 29’s Brad Gorseki editorial for tips & ideas. And if you’re in the mood for a little retro dressing, check out Details Magazine’s How To Dress Like Jake Ryan From Sixteen Candles for some 80’s prep tips.

Did you enjoy the DIY ideas in this Links You’ll Love edition? Check out The Stylist’s DIY Tuxedo Pants or Freckles In April’s DIY Knockoff Chanel Pants.

Street Style Paris Fashion Week

I’m a HUGE proponent of the day clutch & I’m loving the photos that FabSugar posted from the Paris Fall 2012 shows. Need that first one!

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