Not Convinced About The Paleo Diet Yet?

by Dr. Christopher on May 15, 2011

With our April Paleo Challenge at Crossfit Morristown coming to a close this past Friday with the Paleo Potluck dinner and twenty testimonials about how eating Paleo has changed each of our lives, I thought I’d share a few words from our community.

The question I hope you’re asking yourself is …

Do I want my pasta, cheeses, and bagels?  Or do I want to experience a level of health and I probably can’t even imagine?

Here’s some more proof.  [All of the bolded text below is mine.]

Pete R.

I don’t type very well so I’ll keep it short. PALEO WORKS, PERIOD!!!!! I left out the word diet because it’s not a diet, but a lifestyle. Proof, how much more do you need? Look at most crossfiters, the proof is in the paleo. Over the last few years I took CONVENTIONAL WISDOM and threw it out the window. Knowledge is power. The only way for people to learn is to get educated, and that’s the problem.

Will O.

Just want to thank you guys for introducing me not only to CrossFit, but also this Paleo way of life. It’s impacted me a lot over these last 25 days and I’m looking to continue it throughout the summer and Fall soccer season. Thanks again!

How I’ve Been Impacted by the Paleo Diet…

As a collegiate athlete, I pride myself on being fit and inoverall good physical condition. Most of that physical ability though, whether it be my strength, endurance, speed, was mostly god given and I very rarelypushed myself to any “daring” limits in my four years in high school and myfirst two years playing college soccer. Over the winter months I realized that with two years left in my collegiate career, I needed to get serious about my fitness and was searching for something, not only take my game to the next level, but to also increase my athletic abilities all together. I tried to find the right diets, the right workouts, but it just didn’t click. I was bored with my workouts and counting calories became more of a job and hassle than anythingelse.

I then got an e-mail about a 4-week program that CrossFit Morristown was going to be running for athletes at Montclair State University. I figured I would try a few sessions and see how I liked it. The rest, as they say, is history. The workouts kicked my ass like nothing has ever kicked my ass before. And the weird part about it was, I was actually loving it. I was getting addicted to CrossFit!

Sometime during the first week, Karianne and Mike brought up the “Paleo Diet”. I had never heard of eating Paleo and when they said that bread, pasta, rice, and basically anything else I had been raised on for the last 20 years was out of the question I was about to dismiss them completely. When I got home that night, I did a little research into the ways of Paleo. I liked what I saw, so I figured I would give it a shot. 

I immediately regretted my decision to begin my “Paleo Journey”. Throughout the first week, I was absolutely exhausted and physically drained after every practice and WOD [workout of the day]. It was frustrating because I had never felt that way before.  My body was screaming for starches and sugars and anything else that would help get me through workouts. Mike told me that this was normal, and that after aweek or so, my body would adjust to a new diet. And it has, tremendously.

I have been on a strict Paleo diet for 25 days now, and I can honestly say this was the greatest decision of my entire life. I have never felt better physically, mentally, you name it. Besides just feeling better, I have lost a total of 16 pounds since starting the diet! For years I have battled acne and have been taking medicine for it, I haven’t taken my medicine this entire month, and my skin has never been clearer. I look leaner, I run faster, I workout longer,the changes I have witness are phenomenal! 

I can officially say, that CrossFit and the Paleo Diet have completely enlightened me on how to not only push your body to limits that I never thought possible, but also how to care for your body through making conscious choices regarding food, replenishment and recovery. And for that, I thank you.

Nancy B.

March 1st was exactly 7 weeks after having my second child. March 1st was also the day I started On Ramp. I gained 46 pounds during my pregnancy and was looking for a healthy and long-term way to take the weight off. Crossfit Morristown seemed like the perfect program for me. During On Ramp, I listened to the coaches talk about the Paleo diet and throughout the month of March I did some research and attempted to eat a healthier lifestyle; but I didn’t feel I had the right tools to take the plunge and go strictly Paleo.

April 1st was the day I started the Paleo diet. I was a skeptic at first because I didn’t know if I would be disciplined enough to follow the diet for a full 30 days. Once Dr. Chris posted the first blog, I knew I wasn’t in this alone. My fear of not being disciplined enough fell by the wayside. Although I couldn’t see my fellow Crossfitters, I read the blog religiously and knew that their struggles and triumphs were real and we were all in this together. After the first week, my energy level exploded and I also dropped 4 pounds. During On Ramp, I would get dizzy and light headed just by doing squats in warm ups. Those days are behind me. I began feeling stronger mentally and physically. Two weeks into the Paleo Challenge, I dropped another 4 pounds. I couldn’t believe it! I started to get excited about cooking too! I view food in a different way. Now I know that whatever I put in my mouth is going to fuel my body and make me stronger.

Nowadays, I can’t wait to do a WOD because I know no matter how hard the workout may be, I am capable of completing it. In short, the Paleo Challenge may have only been a month long but, for me it will be a lifelong resolution.

Erin C.

When I started Crossfit, I read a little about the Paleo diet and made minor changes such as no peanut butter, switched from milk to almond milk, and cut out most breads. However, since the challenge was announced, I decided to go all out. The biggest issue for me was that I basically ate at least one if not a few candy bars or bags of M&Ms a day. Since I work for M&M Mars, they are everywhere and very difficult to resist given that I am obsessed with chocolate. Since the challenge, I have resisted all candy at work and while I thought the cravings would never cease, they are mostly gone. I ate four Chocolate Peanut Butter eggs around Easter, but even that was a vast improvement since I would have normally eaten at least the whole bag if not more. Therefore, I’ve lost about 15 pounds since April 1 without really trying and even with eating many sugary fruits each day. Cutting out all the chocolate, sugar, and ice cream was huge. I honestly did not realize how much of that I was eating until I cut it out and felt the cravings.

Besides losing weight (which is great), the best change I’ve noticed in my body since changing to Paleo is eliminating the bloated feeling I was getting all the time especially in the morning. It is fabulous. In addition to my addiction to chocolate, I was obsessed with diet soda, drinking multiple servings all day every day. I used to think since I was drinking Coke Zero or Spring Zero, both made with Splenda, that it was fine. However, I now realize how good I feel without them and have had no problem cutting them out completely

Eating Paleo has given me so much extra energy. In workouts, I rest for shorter periods and complete more sets than before. During the week, I actually have energy to do stuff after work besides Crossfit. For example, for the previous four months or so, I never had energy to drive the 45 minutes to visit my boyfriend during the week.  However, the past month, I’ve gone each week. I didn’t realize it at first, but I was more willing to make the extra drive at night and even longer drive to work in the morning because I had the energy for it. I attribute that to the benefits of eating Paleo.

My friends and family are all supportive, but always respond “You can’t eat what?!? Good for you, but I could never do it.” They also eat desserts that really test my will power. But, alcohol is probably the most difficult aspect in terms of friends and family. My family is very into wine and my friends drink beer often. One of my favorite things to do is play drinking games, which is difficult on hard liquor. However, I think the benefits I have noticed so far are worth it and I will survive and in fact flourish without the beer and just drink wine a little more sparingly (or on special occasions).

I’ve noticed I can pretty much eat Paleo in any situation. It just requires planning, higher costs, will-power, or courage. Courage is an interesting requirement to follow through with Paleo because it means I have to stand out and be difficult or draw attention to myself. For instance, I’m attending a two day off-site training for work where all my meals will be included. I had to e-mail the coordinator with special, specific Paleo food requests.  Normally, I would feel very “high maintenance” doing that, but after the challenge and the insight into what others had done, I did it proudly. When eating out at restaurants, I almost always have to customize the meal and appear very picky. Not wanting to stand out as an annoying customer, this is difficult. But I’ve gotten over that and proudly make my requests and the restaurants are typically more than happy to oblige.

Overall, my life has been impacted very positively. I have lost weight, which makes me feel better about myself and also makes Crossfit workouts easier, which then makes me more successful while doing them. I have more energy to spend with people I love. I feel good about what I’m eating and confident I am making good choices.  I don’t regret all the sweets I’ve eaten each day, which helps create a more positive attitude. I’ve also started buying more organic than ever before. The hard facts about the benefits of organic eating that have been posted on the blog were eye-opening and definitely changed my opinion of paying the extra dollars for organic. I’m so thankful for this challenge because it really encouraged me to make the Paleo Plunge that I would not have done on my own, and my life is definitely better for it.

L.H.

So as I sat down to write how the Paleo challenge has affected my life I realized I couldn’t do that without also talking about how the Crossfit community has impacted my life as well. After 25 days, I feel great! I went from being someone who lived on carbs (literally) and was so tired every night that I would be sleeping by 8pm (before my 9 year old students), to someone who has more energy and feels more alert than ever. The foods I thought I couldn’t live without have disappeared from my diet and I have actually learned how to cook (my husband thanks you all for that one!). My body is firmer than ever and recovers much quicker from ALL activity. The main problem I have is that none of the clothes in my closet fit anymore. I didn’t take on this challenge to lose weight, although it is a pleasant and unexpected result. My family has begun to think I am crazy, especially when I showed up to Easter dinner with grilled chicken, spaghetti squash, and almond butter. My dad was so impressed with my results that he is going to begin his challenge on Monday! Now on to the real reason I am sending this email…

About two weeks ago I found out I was pregnant for the third time. Within the last year, I have had two miscarriages and even though this was great news, my husband and I found it hard to be happy. I began to view pregnancy as something that I failed at. It was the first time in my life that no matter how much work I put in, the outcome was out of my hands. I can honestly say without question, that without Crossfit I may have gone crazy by now. The anxiety of waiting to go to the doctor for an ultrasound is something I have never experienced before. Having WOD’s to look forward to, coaches who support me unconditionally, and a place to go where smiles greet me when I walk in the door have all helped alleviate some of that anxiety (at least for an hour or so). I have never felt better about what I am putting into my body and regardless of how things turn out, Paleo is no longer a diet for me, but a new lifestyle.

Thanks for allowing me the platform to express my gratitude to you for all that you do!

**L.H. has recently been to the doctor and has confirmed to me that the pregnancy is pleasantly going as planned.  Please continue to pray for L.H. and her baby with me.

More Paleo Recipes

After having the pleasure of meeting Diane Sanfilippo of Balanced Bites in person, I decided I should share her recipes.  Her words speak of her passion for getting people healthy through nutrition and eating Paleo.  She is currently inspiring me to look further into making my own sauerkraut.

For the record, the Paleo Diet is misleading.  “Diet” makes it seem temporary.  The more appropriate term may be “The Paleo Lifestyle” because I haven’t seen eating Paleo lose many people who try it.  From my observations, the success rate for getting results with Paleo and sticking to it over the long-term is over 95%.

Are you ready to begin Paleo

Dr. Christopher Stepien is a chiropractor, chronic pain specialist, and A.R.T. provider, and clinic director of the Barefoot Rehabilitation Clinic in Morristown, NJ.  He practices out of Crossfit Morristown.

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