Category: Paleo Challenge

Well, we’ve been off the wagon. (As in… can’t even FIND the wagon.)

Tomorrow is a new day though, and we have a new plan. We plan to eat strictly Paleo (but less restrictive than the challenge) 6 days a week, with Saturday as an off day. A lot of people recommend going 80% Paleo and 20% “other” food. 1 day off per week makes us 85.7% Paleo & 14.3% “other”.

We’ve noticed how a lot of the non-Paleo foods make us miserable (gluten= bloating, ice cream & fast food= depression, etc.), but it’s still hard to make the full switch. So wish us luck! 🙂


2-week Update:

We had an anniversary cheat night last night. We both had cheese fries at outback, A had half of a sweet potato (prob closer to 1/3 since Iris [our dog] had some too), and D had 3 beers.

This is after A had her own cheat (after getting sick, so she was required to be on liquids [i.e. anything that becomes liquid once it enters the body]) of ice cream. I (A) had been moaning about wanting ice cream for a while now anyway, so it wasn’t a hard sell, and I’m really glad I had it… because I felt awful the next day. I had a headache that wouldn’t go away (despite lots of advil, ice, aromatherapy, etc.), so now I at least know how my body responds to it. On top of that, it wasn’t nearly as satisfying to have the ice cream (my favorite kind: Breyer’s Mint Chocolate Chip) as I thought it would be. It was good, but…. So now I know. If I want to have it, I have to be prepared that the next day may completely suck for me. As a substitute, the coconut milk ice cream sweetened with sevia was fine (though it has a tiny weird aftertaste). The best option seems to be frozen fruit blended with heavy cream or coconut milk like my mom used to make in the vitamix (she used to add sugar, though not a lot, and often whole milk instead of cream). I made up some the other day, when I was dying for something and wanted to do a Paleo cheat – it was good too, though again, not as satisfying as I remembered it – though it always had sugar when she made it, and I just used coconut milk & strawberries….

Last night’s cheat was useful too. The outback cheese fries were, in a word: delicious. However, we didn’t feel great after eating them, and my weight is up this morning (it’s been mostly a steady incline down, but never yet this much up in one day…. As of Saturday morning (13 days of eating Paleo), I (A) was down 7.2 pounds. That one serving of cheese fries apparently put 2 pounds back on. Not cool, cheese fries, not cool. As of yesterday, D was down 6.6 pounds… but he didn’t have the day of not eating that I had when I got ill… Apparently, eating Paleo really does make your body burn fat in times of famine!! (When he gets up he’ll weigh in for the day, but I imagine he’ll find the cheese fries + beer were not good for his numbers either….) [He was up 2.2 lbs today.]

So we’re learning a lot. D is quite happy eating meat all the time, and I’m getting used to cooking things that I never really made before. I’m learning how my body feels about certain substances, and finding out just how satisfying a sweet potato can be (it was sooooo good!).

On the subject of sweet potatoes, we have a two-week update to the challenge. See below. I will say on the subject of how we’re feeling that A is no longer experiencing insanely crazy mood swings (hopefully her body will detox those cheats out ASAP) but that she still feels fatigued from normal activity. This still could be mental though, as she is still job hunting. D seems to be doing fine, adjusting to his new job (which started the same time as the challenge), but is definitely ready for bed between 10-11pm….

We’ll keep you updated!

From Brian at Potomac Crossfit on the Paelo Challenge Blog:

Just as a general observation, I’ve never repeat NEVER seen training long slow distance runs and/or high volume of training generally improve any facet of fitness, and most of the time I see people gain weight.

So if your goal is to lose weight, and you’re doing something (training long slow distance/high volume of training), then you’re sabotaging your goals. [This was him responding to another question, but interesting enough to leave in!]

1) If you are experiencing good results so far: you’ve lost some weight, or a better indicator, you’re dress size/pants size has gone down, and you’re feeling good energy-wise: change nothing. We’re going to ride that pony until it drops.

2) If you haven’t experienced weight loss/decreased dress size/decreased pants size, and you feel crappy, then post something or email me and Kari so we can take a hard look at what you’re doing and get you on track.

3) If you have lost weight/decreased dress or pant size, and you are bonking on WODs then we need to add some starchy veggies:

sweet potato
butternut squash
acorn squash
spaghetti squash

Amount should be about the size of the palm of your hand if you are still looking for weight loss. If you are lean and are mainly looking for performance, bump that amount up to the size of your fist.
This should be eaten as quickly post-WOD as is humanely possible, along with some meat.


In response to Brian’s comment about running, in “Lights Out…” she talks about this. When we run for extended periods, our hormonal control center thinks we’re running from a predator. it therefore tells our adrenals to dump a crapload (technical term) of cortisol (ie the “fight or flight” hormone) into our bloodstream. And as we know, excess cortisol makes our bodies protect the vital (abdominal) organs by encasing them in as much fat as possible.

She talks about the runners high as well and how this relates hormonally to the cortisol release, etc.. It’s a good read if you want to learn more. Basically though, she says this “high” activates an area of the brain often referred to as the “god module” which is where the brain is most active during spiritual experiences. So, if you’re running from that sabre-toothed tiger, you’ve got the “flight” support of cortisol until eventually, your body gives out, then the “runners high”/ “god module” kicks in so you’re delirious when it finally tears you apart. 🙂 Thanks, biology.

Here are some recipes recommended by some of our Paleo Challenge peers (Thanks again, Potomac CrossFit!). We haven’t tried any of these yet, except Allison’s Salsa-pulled chicken, but as they come highly recommended, I wanted to be sure we had them where we could find them! (There are a LOT of comments on the Paleo Challenge blog page!!)


Author: Shamyla
For Chicken Curry — This is a good recipe with instructional video too.

It takes about 45 mins to an hour too cook so I like to make a big batch over the weekend and refrigerate/freeze a good portion. It tastes even better reheated.


Author: Erin G
Best Chix Paleo meal yet:

(1) Allison’s Chicken in a crock pot w/ jar of salsa. Shred when done.

(2) Plop the chix over this:
Cauliflower rice sauteed on stove w/ a bit of chix broth, cumin, red pepper flakes, paprika, and garlic salt. (yummo!)

(3) top it all off with some super fresh homemade guac–all chunky w/ tomatos, red and green pepper, and onions. (or for those w/o so much time use some wholly guacamole…my lazy cheat.)

(A’s note- I did make the chicken, and added bacon strips to the bottom of the crockpot and cumin to the salsa… I’ll post full directions separately.)


Author: Kari PCF
Great work everyone! Here are a few recipes I love:

Paleo tacos

Chicken Tagine (only if you are having starch and omit raisins)

Slow roasted pork shoulder

Smothered brisket – make sure its grass fed as its a fattier meat. I bought mine from Alison and it was delicious

Tomato braised chicken (sub stock or broth for wine)

Just a tip that has helped me – make use of your grill and slow cooker. I make most of weeknight meals by either grilling a bunch of chicken or meat or slow cooking enough to last a few days.


Paleo Cooking Demo by Allison of “The Humble Gourmand
includes recipes for coconut-dill salmon, balsamic roasted radishes, meatloaf variation, and braised collard greens.

Other recipe recommendations from Allison:

Brian’s famous (infamous?) salad dressing


See all comments on these posts here.

So excited!! After crossfit last night, we walked to Barnes & Noble to look for Paleo books that would explain the science & neurobiology of a Paleo lifestyle to satisfy my (A’s) curiosity & reinforce the “no sugar” requirement. We didn’t find what we were looking for, but we did find something super-exciting:


Look at all this good stuff:


And if that doesn’t convince you, look at how pretty the pages are! (I rarely buy cookbooks without photos.)





And just in case you missed it in the table of contents, she gives you a 30-day family meal plan (with shopping list broken down into 5- day increments), 2 weeks of school lunches, and a list of spices, oils, condiments, & nuts to have on hand in your kitchen!!

And here’s her website, just in case you need some instant gratification! Everything looks AMAZING.

Today we did three workouts at the Potomac Crossfit gym to establish a baseline for the Paleo Challenge. Our warm-up was running around the building and active stretching.

1. Do as many as possible in a minute.

-Pull ups (scaled down to using rings which hang down instead of using the bar).
-Sit ups on abmats.
-Push ups (Scaled down to knee push ups).
-Air squats.
(A- 88 total; D- 120 total)

2. Power clean the heaviest weight you can.
(A- 65 lbs; D- 105 lbs)

3. AMRAP (as many rounds as possible) in 6 minutes

-5 x burpees.
-10 x kettlebell swings.
-15 x push presses.
(A- 81 total with 20# kb and 35# bar; D- 75 with 35# kb and 45# bar)

The Crossfit exercises are short and high intensity so you can get a lot done in 6 minutes.

After all that (plus the 3.4 mile walk home) were pretty hungry so picked up some steaks on the way home. A had a 0.8 lb filet mignon and D had a 1.45 lb porterhouse both cooked medium rare on our caphalon grill pan (awesome!). We had it with grilled shallots, and roasted broccoli (toss in olive oil, salt, crushed red pepper flakes, and 5 unwrapped garlic cloves for 20 min on a baking tray at 450 degrees F) that we cooked until crispy, a delicious meal!




So we’ve been sort of attempting to go Paleo since we got back from our honeymoon, but moving into our new place and looking for jobs has made life extraordinarily stressful! Therefore, finding Paleo recipes, eliminating sugar and dairy, and actually cooking(!) has been a much lower priority… UNTIL TODAY!

It’s not because we suddenly found motivation (I still want cake, or at least some coconut water… maybe an oreo or two…).  Nope. Our brother-in-law Alex sent us an email from their old box (what crossfitters call their workout space), Potomac Crossfit, about their Spring Paleo Challenge. Since motivation has been an issue already, we decided we may as well join a big group of people, learn as much as we can (there was an info session, cooking demo, before photos, and baseline workout today), and get our groove on!

So, here are the rules of the Paleo Challenge, as it applies to us (beginners), and as we remember it.  It’s not the super-hard-core Paleo that my sister Kerry follows (and has had phenomenal results with, btw), but it’s a start (and it lets us have butter, lunch meats, and sausages, so for now it seems a bit easier.


As much meat, fat, and non-starchy vegetables as we need to feel satisfied. They said they want our bodies to become “fat-adjusted” i.e. used to burning the fat we eat so that it will then begin to burn the fat stored in our bodies.  The goal is to choose the best quality that’s affordable and to watch out for sodium and additives, but to remember that “processed meats are better than no meats.”

Allowed Condiments: spices (fresh/ dried), vinegar, oil (though this is a fat, it seems only right to list it here too; best are olive & walnut), mustard, mayo, ketchup (though these have sugar, they’re not as concerned about us having these, since most of use are not going to drink condiments by the bottle…)


Water, fizzy water, water with lemon/ lime juice, unsweetened tea, black coffee (can add a little coconut milk), water (no booze for 5 weeks!)


Everything else.  No nuts, fruit, or paleo starches during the challenge.  No coconut water either (A has recently fallen in love with yummy VitaCoco).  All of these are Paleo, but for slimming and toning… not as helpful as the recommended foods.  Non-paleo foods (grains, milk products [except butter], sugar, etc.) are, of course, not allowed either.


As desired.  They said for new people to focus on the food, on getting good sleep, and reducing stress, and that as we ate better (and our hormones adjusted and self-regulated), we’d have more energy, which could increase motivation to exercise, if that’s needed.  Obviously, cross fit is the recommended method of exercise. 🙂