I am not a cavewoman

Since last May, I’ve felt a little lost when it comes to how I should feed my body.  For awhile I thought I should go vegan.  After all the research I saw on documentaries like Forks Over Knives, I thought veganism would be the healthiest choice for me.  I jumped in, shunning almost all meat and dairy. On the rare occasions I would eat it I felt sick, bloated, tired and stuffed.  It was during this time that I became more aware of how my body reacted to certain foods.  That was a blessing in disguise.  Prior to this change in my eating habits, I’d never considered how my body felt after a meal.  Wait, that’s not true.  I grew up loving ice cream.  LOVING.  I would often have a huge bowl after dinner.  Problem was, ice cream often upset my stomach but because I loved it so much, I just kept eating it.  Insane, right?  Completely.

When I picked up Crossfit in August, I noticed I was not performing as well as I should have been.  I wanted to go harder, faster, longer but I just couldn’t. I was tiring faster than I remember.  My trainer suggested I add some animal protein back into my diet.  At first I was skeptical.  Why? It’s only going to harm my body.  But I gave it a try anyway.  At first I only at one serving on animal protein every couple of days.  Then, when I noticed I was gaining strength and was able to keep going during workouts, I ate a tad more.  It was not long after that my trainer asked for my help in creating a nutrition challenge for our workout crew.  Her idea was to model our challenge after the Paleo Diet, which is what most Crossfit athletes swear by.  I couldn’t just jump in without doing research so I scouring the internet for proof that this diet was actually a decent way to feed my body.  Surprisingly, I found sufficient evidence to ease my mind and I jumped in.  Plus, I found out that due to my blood type, I wouldn’t make a good vegan anyway.

The Paleo diet is based on how cavemen used to eat; meat, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds.  Cavemen? As a Christian, can I say I believe in cavemen? It’s a stretch, considering God created earth and everything in it in six days.  But anyway…it’s how the people on earth ate before there was such a thing as industrialization and the means to process foods.  Google Paleo Diet and you’ll find a host of websites that will explain the eating plan to you in detail.

Our nutrition challenge, in a nutshell, looks like this.  We get points for getting enough sleep, eating clean, drinking enough water and working out.  You begin the day with five points and for anything you consume that’s against the “rules” of our challenge, subtract one point.  The athlete with the most points at the end, wins money.  Who doesn’t like a little extra money?

Because the Paleo diet is such a drastic change for most of us, we decided to do it in stages.  For the first two weeks, we are avoiding all artificial sugar.  Sugar in fruit? Ok. Sugar in a soft drink? Pass it up.  For the second two weeks, we give up sugar and grains.  This means from here on out, we’re eating only gluten-free items, no wheat, no rice, no bread.  No bread?! What do we do when we go to O’Charley’s and they serve those warm, delicious rolls with every meal? Tell them to hold the rolls, thankyouverymuch.  Remove temptation and it will be easier to keep your commitment.  The third two weeks will find us giving up sugar, grains AND dairy.  This is a tough one for most people.  For as long as I can remember, we are told we need the calcium and protein in cow’s milk to grow strong bones.  It’s a lie.  Don’t you think it’s odd that humans are the only species to drink another species milk? I do.  Most cow’s milk contains more hormones and antibiotics than you’d be willing to admit.  Based on that fact alone, I’d quit milk for good.  But there’s more.  I’d encourage you to do your own research.  Reconsider what you’ve always heard from doctors, the USDA, advertisements and our schools.  Maybe there’s a reason why our government pushes milk so hard…that is another blog post entirely.

Anyway, back on track.  In the fourth set of two weeks, we will give up sugar, grains, dairy and legumes, etc.  ‘Legumes, etc’ not only covers legumes but also those nasty processed foods (if we haven’t already given them up because they contain sugar that is) as well.  By the end of the eight week challenge, we will be eating strict Paleo.

I’m pretty excited about this whole thing.  I’m not a doctor, nutritionist (maybe someday) or dietitian, but I do think it’s reasonable not to eat anything you can’t find naturally growing on God’s green earth.  Processed foods? Easy. Everyone knows chemicals, high fructose corn syrup and other unmentionable things the average person cannot pronounce aren’t good for our bodies.  Yet we eat them anyway because in this country, it’s all about what’s most convenient.  I’m really surprised at how much crap parents feed their kids out of convenience.  Mac and cheese, hot dogs, fruit snacks, goldfish…what, your kids won’t like REAL food? How do you know this? Substitute a something else for the broccoli they are refusing because they haven’t acquired a taste for it yet.  Carrots maybe? Squash? Anything but processed nothingness.  That’s just a lazy cop out.

Dairy is easy too, considering the reasons noted above.  Grains however, not so easy.  I’m still wrapping my brain around the science behind why we shouldn’t eat them.  I’ll get back to you on that one.  So far, I haven’t had any cravings for bread.  *Fingers crossed*

Sugar is proving to be a tough one.  I am a dessert lover by nature.  To give that up is going to be very challenging.  Today I had some sweet cravings but because I emptied my house of all sugar, I couldn’t indulge.  I had some dry roasted nuts and a glass of cool water instead.

Our challenge ends December 17.  I will keep you posted as to how I’m doing.  Until then, eat clean.

-Hannah

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