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Paleo Day 30

Posted by cavewomanrunner on November 17, 2008

I have officially been living the Paleo way for a full month now. If I had to recap the high and low points, I would definitely say there have been more highs than lows!

Getting prepped to turn into a cavewoman was actually kind of fun. I removed all the sugars, carbs and other bad processed food from my kitchen. I gave most of the food away, instead of just tossing into the garbage. Then there was all of the research to determine what the good foods are. I have learned more about food in the last month than ever before. And this includes how to cook them – my Grandma would be proud!

The only hard part in the beginning was realizing all of my comfort foods that I would soon begin taking out of my diet – TCBY’s white chocolate mousse with peanut butter cups (and anything else with peanut butter cups), cheese and crackers, blueberry pancakes, bagels and yogart, those darn addictive goldfish.

The first three days of Paleo was the hardest. I felt weak and light-headed. I kept to my running schedule, but even on the short 4 mile easy runs, I had no energy. I didn’t necessarily crave carbs, I just felt drained. Then about day four I started feeling great. I felt cleansed, in a way. I had stopped putting toxins and processed crap into my body.

I did make a bad mistake for my first long run. I didn’t eat for at least 10 hours before the run and then only had a few sips of sports drink before heading out. Pre-paleo this was never a problem for me. I suppose because I had extra carb/fat reserves! Those were the longest and hardest 12 miles I have done in quite some time. My body had no energy whatsoever. None. There was nothing there.

A recovery shake and a long nap after the run helped me regain strength. I chalk that experience up to running and learning. Now I know what I need to do before a long run – eat good foods 2-3 hours before (eggs, baby food, and bananas work well for me), stock up on sports drink before and during the run, and make sure to recover properly after with carbs and protein! I followed the Cordain stages for my half marathon race two weeks into my Paleo diet, and the results were amazing! I have never felt better for a race. With two major hills I came in under 2 hours – and now I’m kind of kicking myself in the butt for not pushing myself even harder.

The other high point of this new lifestyle is the food and exploring new recipes. I must say that most of my life I have not enjoyed cooking. I find it boring and don’t have the patience for it. But the challenge of finding Paleo foods and cooking them the Paleo way has been so intriguing. I’ve definitely become obsessed with lists of Paleo foods and finding and trying good recipes (just check out my Paleo recipe book!) Some of my food experiments have been not so good (the chicken livers) and some have been really good (my own dried bananas).

I even travelled during my first month of Paleo and found that it wasn’t so hard. The key is pre-planning. Take foods with you that can easily eat. And when you’re eating out, be sure to ask what’s actually in the lunch or dinner (don’t just assume that the side of veggies are veggies you can eat – I got stuck with a heaping mound of beans).

Another amazing thing is that my comfort foods – those foods I thought I couldn’t live without – I don’t actually crave. The thought of a blueberry muffin or pancake sounds good, but I haven’t had any. I haven’t wanted any. I can honestly say that I’ve followed the Paleo way for this entire month – the only “deviation” that some would point out is the tweaking that you should do for long runs. So I carb up a bit for my long runs and then return full Paleo!

I know that some people try the Paleo diet to lose weight. I didn’t start this diet to lose any weight. I was happy with my weight before and didn’t need to lose any. My main goal was to see if the diet would improve my running and my overall health. Did I end up losing weight? Yes, I’ve lost about 6 pounds. Most of that I chalk up to water weight and the absence of huge carb loading. Do I feel better and more healthy? Without a doubt. Has my running improved? More than I ever imagined. My speedwork is faster, my long runs are easier, and my recovery time in between is amazing.

So my advice to anyone (runners and non-runners) thinking about changing to a Paleo lifestyle – DO IT! Try it for just a week and see how you feel. Don’t be put off by the restrictions and foods and cooking – believe me, if I can do it, anyone can do it. And the difference you will feel in you body and spirit (not to mention the weight you will lose) will make it all worthwhile.

So after a full month I still stand by the decision I made mid-month into my experiment. I am sold on Paleo. I will continue eating, exercising and running this way – and encourage everyone to try it for themselves. Do I fully endorse the lifestyle? YES! Now, if only I could get paid for my endorsement. 😉

If you’re interested in some of the Paleo recipes I’ve found, check out my Paleo Recipe page!

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