After talking to a number of people who also find themselves in a similar situation, I've decided it's time for a paleo tune up. I'm calling it THE PALEO AWARENESS CHALLENGE because that's my goal...to bring awareness and good nutrition back into my day to day. The best way to do this is with the concentrated effort of a group. Many of us have done the Whole30 Challenge which is an amazing 30 day paleo challenge started by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig. This is a very strict form of paleo and it is a great way to establish a baseline of health. However, I've done it before and while very effective, the restrictiveness is not practical for me this summer. I am looking for an approach that allows for some minor indulgences from time to time, but using a paleo framework. For example, I will allow a moderate amount of wine on the weekends. Knowing that I have that option makes this much more doable for me. (Why is it that alcohol is the deal breaker?!) Summer also presents occasions where you find yourself traveling or going to outdoor parties and finding good quality paleo food is hard. It is those instances where this "practical" approach comes into play. You do the best you can under the circumstances, still trying to stay away from grains, dairy, legumes and sugar but realizing that if you have something that is not quite paleo, there's no guilt...just awareness and honest effort to do the best you can. Now realize that the more effort you put into this, the better your results will be.
Challenge starts MONDAY July 8th, 2013.
Challenge ends TUESDAY August 6th.
You need to take photos and measurements. If you have a reliable scale, use it to see what your start weight is. However, know that the scale is NOT the best measurement of success. There have been many people who have gained weight on the paleo challenge but have lost fat and inches and their before and after pics tell a different story than the scale. Get a piece of paper and write down the date you weighed and measured and all the measurements. Write down your start weight. You will revisit this after the thirty days.
PHOTOS: Everyone has a phone with a camera. You need to take before pics. Do not skip this step! A picture tells a thousand words. Take a picture of yourself from the front, the side, and the back. You can do this in the mirror or have someone take them for you. Ladies, wear a sports bra and gym shorts. Guys wear no shirt and gym shorts.
MEASUREMENTS: You will need a measuring tape to do this. Here are the measurements you should take:
Waist (your natural waistline)
Two inches below belly button (to catch the muffin top area)
Hips (through the part of your butt that sticks out the most)
Upper thigh (for ladies only -the thickest part right below your butt)
Neck (for guys only)
Any other measurement that you think will give you information about body changes.
For the next 30 days, you will avoid all grains (corn, rice, wheat, barley, quinoa, rye, etc). Stay away from gluten free crackers and snacks that are still made with other grains. This is the most important thing you can do right now next to avoiding sugar.
Avoid dairy as best you can. I will allow Kerrygold butter and pastured cream in your coffee if that is important to you.
Avoid legumes. We are talking peanuts and peanut butter, beans and soybeans.
NO sugar or artificial sweeteners. Read labels and try to avoid anything that has sugar, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, cane sugar, dextrose, agave, or any other sugar. Slaying the sugar dragon is key.
Enjoy good quality proteins like grassfed beef, pastured eggs, wild caught salmon, chicken and pork. Fill your plate with green leafy vegetables. Fruit is good, especially berries, but be careful of overdoing the fruit. It still contains a higher amount of sugar, albeit natural, that can keep you on that sugar high. Summer is a great time to try delicious local produce, so take advantage of what is in season.
Restrict alcohol to weekends and only moderate amounts.
I will be posting recipes, tips and links to help keep you on track. Check this site frequently along with my facebook page Project Paleo-StL. I will also post on Melissa Hurley's blog called "Get it! Get it! Girl". It's important that you do everything you can to learn about why we do what we do. This evolutionary approach takes more than diet into consideration. Other areas to work on are getting more sleep and reducing stress. If you haven't had a chance to check out my resources page, please go there for suggested blogs and books. Below are some links that will help you understand what this paleo diet is all about. Educating yourself is part of our 30 day plan. You have to take the initiative and make informed decisions.
If you are looking for good books, there are two that I would suggest:
It Starts With Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig
Practical Paleo by Diane Sanfilippo
I've also got other good suggestions on my resources page.
Clean out your fridge and pantry and get rid of anything that might derail your efforts.
Head to the grocery store and stock up on fresh produce, quality meats and eggs. Get some good turkey or roast beef at the deli to use when making a quick lunch. Make a grocery list and plan your meals a few days in advance. Meal planning and preparation will be key in your success. I always make a big batch of paleo mayonnaise to use in chicken salad, deviled eggs, broccoli salad, and to mix with chipotle powder to make a dipping sauce for chicken. This will keep for about 10 days. I also like to cut up melon and other grab and go veggies. Boil a dozen eggs for a quick protein snack. Whip up some fresh salsa to eat on eggs or to dip plantain chips in. (all of these recipes are on my recipe page).
Consider subscribing to the Whole30 daily which is an email that comes to your inbox every day for 30 days with tips, information and guidance through the 30 day challenge. There is a fee for this, but it is well worth the $15.
Subscribe to Chris Kresser's free Beyond Paleo email series. This is a tremendous resource filled with lots of great information and it's free!