At the top of each minute (including the first minute) 4 Burpees
20 Thrusters 95/65
20 Sumo Deadlift High Pull
20 Push Jerks
20 Overhead Squats
20 Front Squats
My favorite quote in this article references dieters “backstroking against an endless sea of donuts”. While we don’t necessarily prescribe to any diet plan in particular, including the Paleo diet and Whole30, this author makes a lot of good points that I think are important to consider this time of year. I’m sure many of you have new years resolutions that are fitness related. While we are excited to see your renewed enthusiasm, we really want to stress sustainability. Whether we are talking about how many times per week you come into the gym to WOD or food, it is important to find a plan that works for you and isn’t just a quick fix to shed a few pounds.
That’s me on the left in September of 2010, deadlifting 145 pounds (about 65kg). And there’s me on the right just a few days ago, pulling 320 pounds (145kg). A lot can change in five years.
That’s how long it’s been since I started this Paleo way of eating. In that time, my career and sport of choice have changed, I launched this website, I wrote two books about Paleo nutrition (one comes out next week), and I’ve learned a ton about life. I’ve made a boatload of mistakes, but I’ve had a lot of successes, too.
Probably the most profound thing I’ve experienced is how Paleo’s morphed from a very strict yes / no list to something that’s 100% sustainable as a way of life. It’s how I live my every day, and it’s something I plan to keep doing…no end date in sight. No quick fix. No “lose seven pounds in seven days” mentality. No.
Instead, my goals are to be healthy, happy and harder to kill. (Not necessarily in that order.)
I “went Paleo” on January 10, 2010, a full year and a half before this blog existed. (Fun fact: I was writing and sharing recipes on my old blog far before that. Friends told me I should just make a food blog. True story.) I used to race mountain bikes, and two good friends of mine were talking about Paleo. It sounded crazy to me, but I read about it and decided to give it a try. So, I had my holiday fun and on 01-10-10, I started.
How I eat today has definitely evolved. The lessons I’ve learned from five years of experimentation and tweaking are innumerable, so I’ve picked just the top five things to share with you. They’re nuggets I wish to pass along to you and to anyone getting started with—or veteran to—Paleo.
You could also call this post, “Don’t Make the Same Silly Mistakes I Did,” but even with the most sage advice, there’s nothing like experiential learning. To paraphrase 37 Signals in their book Rework, “Mistakes are feedback.” They’re like data that we can use to adjust course. How freaking cool is that?
Anyhow, here are a few of the top 5 paleo lessons I’ve learned in the past five years.
Lesson #1: Perfection is NOT the name of the game.
I get it. When you first get started, there’s a delicate balance to be struck between staying true to the plan versus backstroking across an endless sea of donuts. And for some of us, the line between those seems about a millimeter wide.
Maybe you’re worried that you’ll slip up forever and end up in some Twilight Zone version of a Betty Crocker nightmare, unable to escape a vortex of treats sucking you in. Maybe you’re trying really hard to exercise willpower instead of changing the mental framework you have around nutrition and adjusting your habits correspondingly. Eventually it peters out and leaves you exhausted, reaching for the phone to order takeout again.
So in order to “stay on track” you pour every ounce of energy into being perfect. You try to stick stringently to a yes / no list of food for a very long period of time. You berate yourself or feel guilty when you deviate from the list. You judge your self-worth on how perfectly you’re eating. [Note: I am not referring to folks like Celiacs who need to avoid gluten at all costs, people doing short-term plans like Whole30, or those trying to manage autoimmune conditions through dietary intervention.]
How do I know what this is like? It used to be me.
I was really concerned with sticking to the yes / no list of foods I found in a book. What resulted was me not eating the foods I needed to support my goals. Specifically, I was too low carb as an athlete who was training upwards of 20 hours a week. I wasn’t eating enough protein. I could ride for hours, but I was weak as a baby. The only thing that saved me from messed up menstrual cycles was being on birth control pills. While my health was a lot better compared to when I wasn’t eating Paleo, I was missing out on my body’s own signals and what I needed to be healthier because I was so hell-bent on sticking to a list.
Don’t be like me.
Use a yes / no list as a basic framework to get started, but realize it’s a guideline. You will have to tweak that framework as your health and goals change. You will go off-plan at some point. You are not a bad, stupid, weak person because of it. You are a human living life in the real world, not in a bubble. Being stressed about your diet is one of the biggest mistakes you can make.
If you root the vast majority of what you’re eating in meat, seafood, eggs; veggies and fruits; and healthy fats and do that long-term, that’s where the magic happens. Discipline and perfection are not the same thing. Make sense?
Take-away action: Change your mindset from, “I’m on a diet where I’m restricted and have to give up all the foods I liked,” to, “I’m choosing delicious foods that are nourishing me from the inside out.” Create new habits to support your mindset change, such as devoting time on Sunday to prep food for the week ahead. Learn how foods actually affect you personally and adjust your framework from there. (For more on that, see Lesson #2.)
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