Final Review: Paleo Challenge
The Challenge in Review
The full dirty deets can be found here, but my summary of Paleo-Style eating is this: eating healthy is about the right type of food, not the quantity of food.
I was not allowed any: dairy. sugar. grains. legumes. processed food.
And I was allowed as much as I wanted of: Meat. Fish. Veggies. Fruit. Good fats (avocado, bacon). Natural food (like maple syrup, dates, cocoa).
Fun facts: Paleo comes from term the Paleolithic Era. It’s essentially: Eat like a caveman. There is no portion control on paleo (but I was super sceptical of this). Rob Wolf created the diet after many years of being on a low-fat, high-carb vegan diet. He went from 180 pounds to 130 pounds and developed severe digestive issues. He created the Paleo diet from going back to the basics of the human body (His book is an interesting read, even if you have no plans of doing paleo).
My goal was a full four weeks of eating paleo. No halfassing it, but 110% actually doing it. My goal was to lose weight. Now please keep in mind this was quite the ambitious challenge for me as I’ve never (ever, ever) stuck to a diet perfectly before. And? I find it weird writing this out, but… I actually did it!
I averaged 1,489 calories a day.
My lowest calorie day was 1,009 calories.
My highest day was 1,938.
NOTE: Despite Paleo being a “no portion” diet, I counted my calories every day using My Fitness Pal, but please note calories hardly played a role in the challenge. I just recorded them for curiosity sake. What I found is paleo essentially maximizes one’s daily calories. I’d even be so bold as to say it’s nearly impossible to go over 2,000cal/day because the type of food you eat is sooooooooooo filling.
Start: (Nov 2): 178.2 pounds | 81kg
End: (Dec 3): 168.08 pounds | 76.4kg
My Body Fat:
Start: (Nov 2): 43%
End: (Dec 3): 40%
Muscle gain of 1.76 pounds (800 grams)
Down 2.5cm on my waist
(All stats are from the Nutrionist)
That Sunday night before I started Paleo I was terrified. I had announced to you guys, my family, friends, work and CrossFit that I, Liz, was going to attempt a “paleo challenge.” I had tried it before, and I had failed before (twice actually), so to say I was nervous was an understatement.
And then it went down like this (click on the links below for a more indepth review of each week):
Week 1: Awesome! The plan was new and exciting & seemed fairly easy/doable. The blog helped too as it gave me motivation to prep my food properly, and make new and exciting meals. I blinked and this week was gone.
Week 2: I started to feel sick this week. Nauseous. I wasn’t ever hungry, but around 3pm every day I felt sick. Eventually I pushed through this and it went away.
Week 3: I found a routine for myself this week. I started to stop obsessing over Paleo as much. Week 3 was the first time I could see myself doing this long term. However, sugar & carb cravings were in full force at this point. They were HARD to deal with, but eventually I broke through them too.
Week 4: This week was awesome. I had found my ‘regular, go-to’ meals and found making my breakfast/lunch the night before became second nature. I was in a good routine and found myself not even thinking about the challenge that much, I was just doing it!
The food was delicious. There is no doubt about that: Steak. Bacon. Avocado. Fruit. Yes please! I think when most people think of Paleo they think of lots and lots of meat and plain veggies, but that certainly isn’t the case. I managed to find lots of creative ways to spice up the challenge and was always satisfied with my meals.
I wanted to also send a special shoutout to Coconut Milk. Despite not liking coconut, it saved my taste buds and made some delicious, paleo-friendly meals (buy it. used it). They key to paleo is having lots of spices and herbs on hand!
Also, the desserts on Paleo are also absolutely divine – honey, cocoa, coconut, almonds = heaven. However, I really restricted the paleo treats I made/ate as I still love sweet food and was nervous I’d binge on a tray of paleo brownies – so if I made them, I made them for other people.
I also wanted to share the below two graphs; before the paleo challenge, and during the challenge. You can see how much my carbs came down, and fat and protein increased - interesting! I think ideally it would be 33%, 33% and 33% - one day!
Without doubt one of the reasons I was so successful on the challenge was because I prepped so much. Every Sunday afternoon was devoted to paleo: Shopping-Cutting-Slicing-Prepping. Taking the time (about 2 hours) to get ready for the week made it soooooo much easier to stick with paleo.
I also think the longer one actually sticks to paleo eating, the better they’ll get at knowing how much to buy, what to prep, & how to plan meals ahead of time. I never actually cooked food more than 24 hours before the meal, but I’d love to change this in the future (for example make a mass breakfast Sunday night for Mon, Tues, Weds).
8 Rest days last month. Not too shabby. Not too shabby indeed. However, I still TRULY believe you lose weight in the kitchen, get fit in the gym, so me being a CrossFit ninja this past month was simply an added bonus, I really believe the scale went down because of my food.
I saved money doing paleo! Totally not what I expected, but facts are facts!
Week 1: $120 (start up costs - like oils, nuts)
Week 2: $80
Week 3: $100
Week 4: $90
I think because I ate out so much less, my overall food costs actually came down. Pretty exciting as I thought my bank account would really take a hit from this. I always tried to buy grass-fed meat, and free-range eggs, and the few times I did eat out, I had to close my eyes and point to the $30 steak and veg, but it really was worth it.
The first Monday after paleo ended was my first cheat meal. It was my birthday and although I had made myself a paleo breakfast, come lunch time I ‘gave in’ to a few French fries, and the homemade cheesecake someone had made me. I felt full within 3.2 seconds. Like, whoa, stomach-is-about-to-explode full.
Since Monday most of my meals have still been paleo, with the exception of eating out (stealing fries, ice-cream with Matt, cupcakes from Danya, a piece of cake (or two) for my birthday & a chicken parma last night with some awesome ladies), but the exciting part is I am SO READY to get back to 100% paleo eating. It’s Friday today and I am ready not to eat crap. I feel more tired after eating sugar this week, and just all around blah, whereas I felt awesome on Paleo!
So with that, I am rolling into another STRICT 30 day challenge starting Monday (exception of Christmas day & NYE). My results were awesome, and I really enjoyed the challenge, so I figured why not?!
Oh, and I should mention the absolute #1 reason I think I actually did the challenge 100% was because I had a defining start date. One day I was not doing paleo. The next day I was. No ifs. Ands. Or Buts.
Please feel free to join me! I’m no expert, but if you leave comment/question I’ll do my best to answer them. Let’s prep like all-stars this weekend, for a big, new start on Monday!