Thursday, May 27, 2010

Paleo is it

When I came into the Crossfit fold last fall, my first priority was to work on my fitness level; to love to be active instead of dreading it. Because of the ingenious programming of CF, I fell in love right away. I couldn't wait to become faster and stronger. 

In the back of my mind I rationalized that if I worked out hard then this would give me the excuse of eating whatever the hell I wanted. I've always thought that. Even when I got my first gym membership at Powerhouse Gym in Canoga Park in 1995. In the early 2000s, I was obsessed with indoor Spinning. I would spin two times a day. I would also eat anything my heart desired. I stayed well within my high school weight range (90-95#s), which only reinforced to me that I worked out to eat as I pleased, not for the multitude of GOOD reasons why one stays fit. 

You mix in my career- former chef, culinary consultant, and food geek... the 
"necessary" exposure of amazing culinary adventures that my jobs have brought to me. I called it work mandated eating. Working side by side with the best chefs in the world, the desire of honing my palate by eating everything I can, and just the added peer pressure that diets are for pussies-- it really shaped my relationship with food. I have in the past verbalized that I people on diets are not my friends. Those with food hang-ups/fears are my enemy, closed minded and narrow is their view of the world, and the world is made to eat everything in it.  I loved food. It never let me down. It brought me great pleasure. It was my ally. It came to a point where if I was having a bad day at work, I would soothe myself by indulging in a meal that I craved. It made it all better. 

These meals that were the salve of my wounds served as comfort, satisfying a base human drive, HUNGER.

Entering in the 3rd month of doing Crossfit on a consistent basis of 3-4x a week, I noticed that I hadn't lost any weight. I was still 119#s and my clothes were still very snug. I was perplexed. My formula of working out and eating what i wanted was not yielding the results I expected. I remember opening up to David, my coach/trainer,  about my concern. He did his best to try to take away focus from the weight loss, but asked if I desired to improve on my performance. Of course, I answered yes. His solution to my concern: Paleo

I remember coming home and googling the term Paleo. I ravenously absorbed as much as I could about the lifestyle. My initial thoughts were, "this is going to be temporary, cause there is no way I will want to live life this abbreviated." No sugar? No grains? No dairy? WTF? These were my friends. No more butter and sugar on white toast with a glass of warm milk before bed? I couldn't fathom. The foods of my childhood...

But my desire to get faster, go harder, be stronger won out over my sentimental relationship with "those" foods. I eased into my Paleo lifestyle. I didn't follow a strict regiment. I enjoyed cream in my coffee, had rice at my Mom's house, and occasionally enjoyed bread with my sandwiches. I would allow myself these cheats so I wouldn't go crazy. I also continued to consume alcohol. My results were apparent in the gym, a couple weeks into my program. The first 2 weeks I struggled with eating enough calories of WHOLE foods, to displace the calorie-dense carbs I took out of my diet. But once I got over that hump, my stamina improved and my strength increased exponentially.  Of course, with these gains my confidence soared and my desire to beat myself and set new PRs increased.

More than 2 months of this loose Paleo living, I had seen leaps and bounds in my fitness, and had lost about 7 pounds of weight. My clothes still fit the same. I still had a muffin top, a roll on my back under my bra strap, and my ass still looked droopy. I knew in my heart that I had to commit to a strict paleo program; no cheats, no sneaks, no rationalizing that I can't get through without a bit of grain in my day... 

On April 12th, I weighed in at 112.3 pounds and a BF% of 28.9 percent. That day I committed to a 30 (actually 37 days) paleo challenge that would eliminate sugar, dairy, grains, legumes and alcohol from my diet. In the first week, I lost 4#s, so when the Paradiso Crossfit Paleo Challenge started on April 19th, I weighed in at 108. On that day I also did benchmark workout Fran, and clocked it at 12min42sec. 

The first half of the 30 day challenge was easy, but the second half was unbearable. I started having dreams of my favorite (forbidden) foods. And my desire for an alcoholic beverage was too much. So I indulged. I had some beer and wine at the end of week 3. At that point I had already met my weight goal (actually surpassed it) and my performance in the box was exemplary in my eyes. I had enough energy to go 4-5 days in a row- all due to my paleo diet, I believe. Either way, I fell weak to my desires, but I wasn't going to beat myself up for it and overshadow all the gains and improvements I had made so far.  

On May 19, collectively as a box, we tackled Fran again to see if our "clean" month will show itself in our times. I did Fran this time around in 8min53sec, just 11 seconds shy of a 4 min. gain. I was pleased as punch. My final stats were: 9# weight loss (that's a little over 8% loss of my body weight), minus 3% BF, and of course, 3min49sec off of my Fran, all in 37 days.

After class, I jetted immediately to Santouka to order D-set, Salt. I couldn't finish my bowl of noodles or the chasu rice. I think my body was already telling me NO! I then met with my boss and had a large Kirin. From there I went to BJs brewery and had 2 pints of house stout. The next several days after I continued to indulge my hearts desire which included more beer, bourbon, fried chicken, rice and gravy, chili cheese fries, onion rings, croissants, donuts, ice coffee with half/half and more and more breaded and fried shit... then more beer. 

Every morning of those days of gluttony I awoke feeling bloated, lethargic, and just an overall feeling of discomfort. I also notice my skin started to become inflamed. I was breaking out like a 15 year old. My eczema was flaring up on my face and arms. My skin looked sallow. I didn't feel good about myself. 

The new week began and I knew that I had to get back on track to eating clean. I mean, just a few short days I had managed to make myself feel horrible. Not to mention, I weighed myself and I had gained 4#s (probably all water) in less than 5 days. That's when it started, the mutiny in my stomach. It was pissed and it was going to let me have it. I'll let you use your imagination on what a pissed of GI tract will do to its owner. That is when I made my vow that Paleo is it for me. "The proof of the pudding is in the eating."

My experience in the last 2 months has shattered any convictions I may have had in the past about my relationship with food. This epiphany is paramount in my life. My way of thinking has been completely rearranged. I've come to the conclusion that I have some form of allergy to grains/sugar/dairy; they cause an inflammatory response in my body. Removing them from my diet equates to performance gains at Crossfit. I have settled my sleeping patterns. I no longer deal with mood swings. I have yet to endure panic attack this entire year of 2010. (sidebar- I use to be a regular at the pharmacy to fulfill prescriptions for my insomnia, depression, dermatitis, et al; not anymore) I have yet to get sick since becoming strict on paleo. AND the cherry on top is I'm back in size 0, which is what size I wore in High school and college. 

The complete satisfaction that I achieved the goals I set out for myself is tantamount to the actual end results. 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing your journey. Your struggles and honesty is incredibly inspiring! xo