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5 Reasons Why Paleo is Awesome

SAMSUNGI feel like when I’m at work or out and about with people I know, I’m constantly hearing whining about how much they hate their diets, how bad it sucks that they have to eat this that and the other, and how hard it is to only eat salads and celery sticks or whatever other kind of nonsense their diets have them eating. Now, I don’t believe in diets, but I’m not a pretentious jerk and I’m not going to tell everyone I think their diets are stupid and ineffective. Instead, I’m just going to outline why paleo is the absolute best way to eat that won’t make you hate your food and leave you miserable and hungry at the end of the day like those stupid fad diets will.

5 Reasons Why Paleo is the Best:

  1. No counting calories: Unlike a lot of fad diets, paleo doesn’t require you to add up your calories throughout the day and stop eating when you hit a specific number. It’s all about eating the right foods that are the best for your body and will best help you to perform. If you’re doing paleo right, you’re never depriving yourself of the nutrients your body needs.
  2. We’re eating so we can perform, not performing so we can eat: There’s a huge distinction here! Working out so that you can eat what you want is way different, and far less productive, than eating properly to enhance your workouts and overall health and performance. Viewing your food as fuel for your productivity and not as a reward for working out makes eating more meaningful, healthier and more effective.
  3. Bacon: Bacon is awesome, and eating paleo means eating bacon. Hence, paleo is awesome. Boom. SAMSUNG
  4. Cheat meals: Seriously, chocolate tastes so much more awesome when you haven’t had it for a long time. It’s like you’re actually a caveman experiencing sugar for the first time. Rewarding your hard work with a cheat meal every once in a while is a super cool perk of eating paleo, and the best of the best Crossfitters all advocate the occasional cheat.
  5. Feeling good: Honestly, I would recommend paleo to anyone for this reason alone. Even without the incredible health and fitness benefits, eating paleo just makes you feel so much better all around. You’re never bloated or lightheaded, and you should never have indigestion, heartburn or constipation. Best of all, when you go out, you’ll never leave the restaurant feeling like you’re so stuffed you can’t move.

I hope this clears up your doubts about paleo. If not, you should go to Robb Wolf’s website for the scientific rundown on why it is so awesome. I’m not exactly the scientific expert, but I think the fact that bacon is part of our diet should be reason enough for everyone to eat paleo, right?

5 deliciously simple paleo snacks

I hope everyone had a blast doing 13.2. If you haven’t done it yet, good luck – hope you like box jumps.

I don’t know about you guys, but I need about a million snacks to get me through my day. I know it gets discouraging trying to find snacks in the grocery store that are 100% paleo, but really there are a lot of options – you just have to be willing to take the extra time to look for them and ask the store staff, if necessary. Here are 5 things I found at the grocery store this week. With the exception of the Trader Joe’s almond butter, it’s all from Walmart or Target. Yes, really!

SAMSUNG Lara bars!

If you’ve been eating paleo for a while, you probably know about these. Totally natural fruit/nut ingredients, no preservatives, no sugar, sweeteners, etc. Until recently I was getting them from Trader Joe’s, since they sell them for $1.00 apiece as opposed to the $2.50 the local upscale grocery store asks for them. However, I don’t know when they started but the Walmarts in my area are now carrying them by the box! Yes, I’m ridiculously excited about this. They are about $5.25 for a box of 5.

Short ingredients lists make me :)

Short ingredients lists make me 🙂

 GoGo Squeez!

So these little guys are called GoGo Squeez Applesauce on the Go. I don’t personally consume them, because I’m over the age of 8, but my daughter LOVES them, and they’re 100% fruit and fruit juice. Yay for little paleo babies! I got a huge box of them for like 8 bucks at Walmart.

GoGo's ingredients

GoGo’s ingredients

Available at <a href="http://www.target.com">Target</a> Crispy Green Mangoes from Target

I usually get my dried mangoes from Trader Joe’s, but they were out of the unsweetened, unsulfated kind I always get the last time I was there. These are freeze dried, so they’re crispy as opposed to chewy. However, they are actually surprisingly delicious, totally all-natural and only about a buck a pop.

 Raw, Crunchy, Unsalted Almond Butter

Exactly how it sounds. Crunchy and almondy and delicious. 🙂 Available at Trader Joe’s. I eat this with everything.

 Naked Coconut Water

There are a lot of brands out there for coconut water, but this is definitely my favorite. There’s nothing added, just straight coconut water. They also have these in flavors like lychee and pineapple, but I think those have some other additives. What I do if I want some flavor for these is blend them with a strawberry or kiwi, and ta-da – instant deliciousness. Bonus – they’re only about $1.50 at Walmart.

If you have questions about other snack ideas, comments, or you know of some hidden paleo secret and want to share, please let me know. Happy snacking!

Paleo Recipes: Favorite soups and salads

The great thing about eating paleo is that you have a huge selection of foods you can eat, and there are a million resources out there with great ideas for recipes. Here are a few soups and salads that we’ve tried and loved:

Paleo Sausage and Spinach Soup

Photo by Jennie Bowen

Photo by Jennie Bowen

Visit The Preppy Paleo for the full recipe.

This is the perfect soup to warm you up on a frigid day. Everything in it is paleo approved and delicious, and – the best part – it’s quick and painless!

Jennie suggests using sliced sausage instead of crumbled, and fresh coriander instead of basil.

Chicken “Noodle” Soup

Photo by Jennie Bowen

Photo by Jennie Bowen

Visit Elena’s Pantry for the full recipe.

Another delicious soup to beat the winter blues!

Jennie suggests adding 2 teaspoons of Savory for taste and also adding shredded chicken to make it a more substantial meal.

Shrimp and Spinach Salad

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Visit The Preppy Paleo for the full recipe.

This is definitely my new favorite salad! I made it without the feta cheese to make it 100% paleo. I also didn’t have any mushrooms around so I didn’t use those, but I don’t think it took away from the salad. The dressing is so good you can definitely make extra and save it for your next salad!

If you have questions about these recipes, or paleo in general, please feel free to leave a comment. Also, if you have a delicious paleo recipe you’ve tried and would like to share, I’d love to hear from you! Happy eating and stay primal!

Paleo Sleep: Catch your zzz’s caveman style

As I’ve said before, paleo isn’t just a diet – it’s a lifestyle. That means there are other factors involving your health that you need to pay attention to besides the way you eat. One of those factors that is so important it’s basically comparable to diet is sleep.

Sleeping is an absolutely essential part of overall health, yet it rarely receives the attention it deserves. If you’ve been researching paleo, you’ve heard all about the biological reasons we haven’t adapted to processed foods and grains, etc. But another huge aspect of this biological discussion is sleep. Guess what those same cavemen whose diet we’re trying to mimic had no access to? Besides automobiles and air conditioning and you know, all that stuff. Artificial light! They woke with the sunrise and slept when the sun set. Even in more modern centuries, sleep patterns were much different than they are today, since it wasn’t until the 19th century that the light bulb was introduced. Before that, of course there were alternative ways of creating light, but certainly not in the way we experience it today.

Robb Wolf makes a great analogy between artificial lighting and exercise:

“Indoor lighting is like chronic cardio relative to lifting weights and sprinting: not enough of an acute (hormetic) stimulus, too much of a chronic stress.”

Okay, so artificial lighting does weird things to us. It’s kind of complicated, but basically, our cortisol levels become elevated when we are exposed to artificial light. Our cortisol level is low at night while we’re sleeping. It should be, anyway. However, if we’re exposed to light when we’re trying to sleep, the level spikes. According to Mr. Wolf, “This can absolutely buggar sleep and crack open a host of problems with regards to body-fat levels, insulin resistance and systemic inflammation.”

Oh, no, there’s that inflammation thing AGAIN! Geez, these paleo people seem to be obsessed with the term. Yes, it does come up a lot in the research – for good reason. These problems with our diet and sleep pattern and exercise routine all seem to lead up to this same issue! And the reality of it is simply undeniable, when you look around and see what has become of much of the population.

So we’ve established that our bodies are not designed to function under artificial light. Now, of course we live in a world where there’s not very much we can do to change that. We all work in buildings with artificial light and stare at computer screens for eight hours a day. What we can control, however, are our sleep patterns and habits.

So let’s look at what you can do to do to ensure the best sleep possible:

1. Sleep in the dark! Because of the whole cortisol issue, you’ve got to sleep in a pitch dark room. Don’t have a little lamp on beside your bed, don’t have the curtains drawn so the street light can stream in. And definitely remember to turn off the computer monitor. Those things will prevent you from getting the deepest possible sleep, which is what your body needs to function optimally.

2. Get 8-10 hours. Yes, it’s a lot. You may have to record your favorite show and watch it in the morning, or read ten pages less of your book before bed. Do it. Otherwise nothing else you’re doing to better your health is going to matter much.

3. Establish a routine. Tuck the kids in, take a shower, do the dishes. Oh, it’s 10:00, that’s it for today. Seriously. Facebook stalking, reruns on Netflix or… whatever else you do late at night can wait.

4. Get up on your own. If you’re getting the eight hours you need, your body should eventually be able to wake itself up without an alarm clock. Try your best to get yourself to that point. Cause alarms… you guessed it – they’re not paleo.

I’m going to say something that’s going to make some of you cry a little bit inside, but hear me out. You cannot go to bed at 3 a.m. and wake up at 7 to start your day. You’re asking for trouble. Sleep deprivation is horrible for you – not just as someone trying to stay in great shape, but anyone concerned about overall health in general.

“Sleep deprivation mimics many elements of the aging process. One could make the argument that how you feel when you are sleep deprived is likely how you will feel if you are both diabetic and old (sleep deprivation dramatically impacts insulin sensitivity).” – Robb Wolf’s Blog 

Don’t age yourself unnecessarily, guys. Sleep like a caveman. Report back here if it doesn’t change your life.

Wodcast #1: Jake Introduces Crossfit

Introducing the newest addition to Functionally Fit – Wodcasts with my caveman, Jake!

This week is an introduction; feel free to comment with ideas, questions, concerns… anything you would like us to talk about in future weeks.

You Poor Hungry Caveman: How to avoid starving on the paleo diet

If you’ve transitioned to a Paleo lifestyle you’ve probably noticed a couple things about it – you’re hungry, like, all the time… and it can be kind of rough trying to find food you can eat.

The good thing about the first part of the problem is that Paleo doesn’t ask you to count your calories or restrict yourself to a certain amount of meals per day. If you’re hungry you don’t have to wait until a certain time to eat. That being said, you also can’t camp out in your kitchen all day cooking. So here are some tips on how to eat throughout the day.

1. When you have time to cook, try to make enough to last more than one meal.

This helps out especially if you have a job where you’re away from home all day. Just pack your delicious caveman cuisine into a Tupperware and save yourself that painful trip to the restaurant where you’ll have to harass the server with a million questions about each menu item.

2. Eat until you’re full!

Every meal, every time. Seriously. Otherwise, you’re going to be ravenous again in twenty minutes. Trust me, that gets old quickly. Of course, don’t gorge yourself till you can’t move, but you get the point.

3. Stock up on paleo snacks.

Your fridge should always be jam packed with fruits and vegetables. Other really good snacks to graze on throughout the day are almond butter, cashews/assorted nuts, dried fruits (try to find the kind without preservatives), hardboiled eggs, bacon, jerky (again without preservatives if you can help it), kale chips and anything coconut (they have roasted coconut chips, coconut strips, and of course coconut water). A lot of these things can be found at your local farmer’s market. Trader Joe’s and other natural food stores carry some as well. And you’d be surprised what you can find if you look hard enough at your regular grocery store. Today at Walmart, I found Crunchies dried fruits, which are all natural with no preservatives, nuts, Naked coconut water, cage-free organic eggs and almond flour. Not bad for your neighborhood superstore. You really just have to keep your eyes open and make a point to hunt these things down.

4. Protein powder.

Post-workout, I’m always starving and I usually am rushing off somewhere in a hurry, so this is an absolute necessity. I also use it if I just really have no time to make anything or go to the store.

5. Try quick and easy recipes.

I know there are a lot of awesome paleo recipes out there, but every meal doesn’t have to be a gourmet affair. Sometimes there just isn’t time or money for that. Easy and quick meals include avocado and tuna salad, chicken salad, rotisserie chicken with veggies, and Old Faithful – eggs and bacon.

Avocado tuna salad

Avocado tuna salad

Paleo spicy shrimp

Paleo spicy shrimp

Rotisserie chicken and steamed veggies

Rotisserie chicken and steamed veggies

I hope this is encouraging to those of you feeling the stress of trying to do this paleo thing right. I know it can seem difficult, but doing some of these things should make it a little bit easier on you. Please feel free to let me know if you have additional tips, questions, comments or pictures of your favorite paleo meal!

This week’s WOD’s:

Monday: “The Chief” – Max rounds in 3 minutes of

3 Power Cleans

6 Pushups

9 Squats

Rest 1 minute, Repeat 5 cycles

Result: 80 lb. cleans, 17 total rounds + 7 extra cleans

Tuesday: Skill – 5×5 Front Squat

Result: 110 lbs.

WOD – For time:

30 burpees

Run 1200 M

30 burpees

Result: 10:46

Wednesday: No WOD

5×5 Back squat

Result: 145 lbs.

Thursday: For time:

21-15-9 reps of

Power Cleans

Box Jumps

Result: 6:43 (20” box, 75 lb. clean)

Friday: Had to skip snatch WOD because of rotator cuff problem 😦

5×5 overhead press @ 65 lbs.