paleo day 1: kale, costco, and a hell of a lot of meat

I have a reason to start blogging regularly again: Tomorrow I start the Paleo diet. Basically, an uber-simple approach to food—simple as in Stone-Age simple. I needed a place to keep track of how I’m doing with it, so I’m going to try to post updates here as often as I can.

So what on earth is Paleo? Before we had agriculture, we dined on nothing but wild game and plants. The purpose here isn’t for weight loss per se, but to reap the benefits of eating how humans did before we got all civilized and such. Don’t get me wrong—if civilization has brought us baguettes and doughnuts and popcorn and Gruyere, I say bring it on. (If you’ve spent any time on this little blog of mine, you’ll know that my my enjoyment of food often trumps my pursuit of health.) But I wanted to mix things up a bit. Try something new, and see how the old bod would deal.

Some of the things I bought today*

And so I signed up for nutritional counseling with Nell Stephenson, who is not only a fitness and health coach but a triathlete herself (and a fast one, at that). We met through a story I did on the diet—she was the one who got me curious about this crazy diet in the first place. She even agreed to throw in a customized training plan, on top of just the nutrition stuff. For the first time in my life I’ll be able to say “my coach.” So far, she’s been amazing.

Adherents will argue passionately for the superiority of the diet. If you want to learn more about why they believe in it so strongly, I suggest reading the book. I’m not here to argue, only to experiment. I’m a generally healthy, reasonably fit amateur triathlete who’s been dealing with some GI issues lately and other unmentionables. If there’s room for improvement in life, I want it. Plus, eating a better variety of vegetables and increasing my protein intake could do me some good—all reasons to take the plunge.

From Nell’s blog, in response to the Fed’s new “food plate”

Any further questions? Probably. Here are my thoughts, albeit before even starting. We’ll see how I feel in a month. Bye bye refined sugar, dairy, legumes, and grains. Hello lean meats, fish, nuts, and kale. LOTS of kale!

Won’t it cost a fortune?

Yep. But I’m OK with spending more on the stuff I put into my body. I don’t go to the movies or buy a lot of clothing, I don’t eat out very often or have a mortgage/car payments/student loans. Plus, I’m fortunate to have a job that lets me do what could be the most expensive thing in my life for significantly less.

All that meat … have you ever heard of global warming?

I’m going to do my best to buy pastured, or free-range meats and sustainable seafood. Plus, I bike to work, so leave me alone. ; )

How will you train without carbs?

Nell’s taken care of me in that respect. We endurance athletes get a little bit of non-Paleo food, namely, sugar, during training. We also get to eat yams on the weekend to fuel our long rides and runs.

What will you miss most?

In no particular order: VG’s donuts (good thing they’re 2 minutes from my house…ahhhh!), cereal, popcorn, Greek yogurt, oatmeal. It’ll be interesting to see how I feel about these foods afterwards.

What are you looking forward to?

Feeling leaner and stronger. Not having GI issues on runs. Getting rid of this newly-discovered acne. Espresso-soaked figs. (Yes, that’s on this week’s meal plan.)

What about alcohol and coffee?

Thankfully, I can have black coffee and the occasional glass of red wine. Phew!

Are you going to cheat?

Some versions of the diet, like the one described in the Paleo Diet Cookbook, factor in a certain number of “cheat meals” to help keep you sane. I’m going to try my hardest, however, not to. I want to maximize the benefits and really get a feel for how I respond to eating this way.

*I was going to post a photo of my last supper, but instead of focusing what I’ll be giving up, I wanted to focus on the delicious food I’ll be embracing over the next few weeks. (Plus, I’m a little embarrassed to admit the contents of my last supper to my coach … I just love the way that sounds. “My coach.”)

7 thoughts on “paleo day 1: kale, costco, and a hell of a lot of meat

  1. Judi
    June 20, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    Best of luck Adventurous Jen…will look forward to seeing how you do!!!!

  2. June 21, 2011 at 7:29 am

    Hey Jen, I’ve had “GI issues and other umentionables”. Not fun. Anything you can do deal with that is a good thing. Oddly, smoking is good for my Ulcerative Colitis. I read somewhere that smoking does have some negative side effects though, so I’m abstaining. All the best with your current food journey – we’ll be reading the updates.

  3. June 21, 2011 at 9:46 am

    Good luck with the Paleo diet! I’ve been doing it for about a month now and it’s great. I’m feeling leaner these days and my stomach is definitely feeling better. I’m training for a marathon as well and have been cheating a little with some non-Paleo carbs before/during/after my runs, but other than that I try to stick to the plan!

  4. June 21, 2011 at 11:31 am

    Go 100% and you won’t be sorry! I’ve been Paleo since March and I feel great! I’ve leaned up, lost almost 20 lbs and it has greatly improved my athletic performance – I PRd my second triathlon on the 12th by almost 40 minutes.

    I thought I would miss Greek yogurt, cheese, oatmeal and Kashi, but there are so many other great things to try you don’t feel cheated and pretty soon they don’t even taste good anymore.

    I’ll be following your blog to see how your results are…good luck!

  5. Jen
    June 21, 2011 at 2:33 pm

    Hi everyone, thanks for your comments! And I thought this poor blog was on its last legs. Apparently Paleo is a hot topic! I appreciate your support so much. Happy eating!

  6. June 21, 2011 at 5:44 pm

    Your body will love you for this decision!! Way to go!!

  7. June 21, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    Congrats! And good luck!!! Getting through the first week can be hard (cravings, low energy as your body comes off modern foods), but after that it gets really great. And the previous poster was right, you’d be amazed at those things that you don’t really miss. Those foods become pretty easy to pass on, usually. Yay!