I am very excited to be starting a one-month paleo challenge with some of the members of my local gym. Just yesterday my very articulate and knowledgeable husband, Nick, gave an introductory seminar on paleo nutrition to some of the brave souls who will be joining us on this challenge. Nick and I will be working together to head up this challenge, which officially begins tomorrow! I will be scoring points, answering questions, and of course providing lots of paleo recipes.
Nick and I will also be participating in the challenge, so you might notice that the recipes I post here will be a bit stricter for the next month. I have in the past used cultured dairy in some recipes, but all dairy products will be off-limits for the duration of the challenge. We are also eliminating all added sweeteners, so no baking with honey for a while. And of course, the biggest sacrifice: cocoa is technically a bean, so any sort of chocolate is out of the question. It has been a while since I have done a strict paleo challenge, though, so it will be interesting for me to see if I have any improvements in health and general well-being by eliminating some of these borderline foods.
Our paleo challenge is not only about diet, though; our goal is to help normalize sleep, dietary, and exercise patterns. The core of good health, and thus fitness, is solid sleep, a clean diet, and adequate exercise. The point system that Nick and I developed tries to reflect that theory. Here is the breakdown of how we will be judging the challenge:
Sleep – Adequate sleep is critical to normalizing appetite, managing stress, and generally feeling well.
• Maximum total of 14 total points/ week. Less than 7 hours in any night = 0 points awarded
• 7 hours in any night = 1 point
• At least 8 hours = 2 points
Workouts – Exercise builds muscle mass and increases insulin sensitivity. Plus, as Nick likes to quote, “stronger people are harder to kill, and more useful in general.” For those who feel that more exercise will improve their performance, they are free to exercise more than 4 times per week, but . . .
• Maximum of 4 points per week – 1 point/workout.
Food Compliance – 28 points per week. 4 total points/ day.
• Any day with a “non-paleo” food will be docked points according to the food and the amount.
• One perfectly “clean” day of eating = 4 points.
* Food Compliance Guidelines *
• No: Grains (corn is a grain), Legumes (beans, peanuts, soy, cocoa), Dairy (milk, butter, cream, yogurt, cheese)
• No: white potatoes (sweet potatoes/yams are okay)
• No: Added sugar (maple syrup, honey, agave nectar, Splenda, Equal, Nutrasweet, xylitol, stevia, HFCS, corn sugar, evaporated cane juice)
• No: Vegetable oils (canola, corn, soybean, partially hydrogenated anything)
• No: MSG (table salt is okay)
• No: Packaged, processed foods (anything canned with sugar or syrup, processed meats, etc.)
• No: Booze (wine is not a fruit, beer is a grain)
• No: Juices (100% or not, juice is sugar)
• Eat: Fresh and/or frozen veggies, fruits (canned without sugar or syrup is okay)
• Eat: Meat, fish, seafood
• Eat: Nuts , seeds
• Eat: Healthy oils (lard, tallow, coconut, olive oil, etc.)
Although whoever is willing to make this many positive changes in their diet and lifestyle is already a “winner” in my opinion, we will be awarding prizes to winners in several categories. The first award will go to whomever has the highest compliance according to the point system. The second award will go to whomever experiences the greatest weight loss (as measured by percentage of original body weight). The final award goes to the person who shows the greatest improvement in athletic performance. To measure athletic performance we all completed the workout “Helen” yesterday morning, and will repeat that same workout again on September 8 after the challenge is complete:
3 rounds for time:
12 pull-ups (scaled to your ability)
21 KB Swings (RX: 23 kg/16 kg)
400 m run
I also completed Helen yesterday, substituting a row for the run, since running is rather uncomfortable for me this late in pregnancy. My time was 12:19. I am obviously not competing to lose any weight, and I am not sure that my workout time will improve, considering how I will be more than eight months along by the time the challenge is over, but I am still completely committed participating in the challenge, and keeping my point total as close to perfect as possible.
For the duration of the challenge I will also be providing support and encouragement to our other brave participants, posting lots of information and articles at our gym’s web site, and publishing paleo-challenge-approved recipes and challenge updates here on my blog.