Friday, May 18, 2012


Starting June 1, we are doing this. The hardcore 30-day paleo challenge.

Homework. Yes, you. I want you to do a few things before we start this challenge. I want you to take some notes for the “before,” so you can compare how you feel when this is all over. Most, if not all of these things will change. On day one, write all of this down. You ought to take a before picture, no matter how daunting that can seem. When this is all over, I want to hear about these results in the comments. Please keep track of your progress.

  1. Weigh yourself. Really do it so you know where you are starting.  Note how your favorite jeans fit.
  2. Look at your fingernails. Are they weak? Strong? Short? Note the color.
  3. Look at your skin. Do you have acne? Bumps? Dryness? Note the color and eveness of your skintone. Get ready to glow.
  4. How is your energy? Do you crash at a certain time of day? Are you exhausted every morning?
  5. Your muscles. How strong do you feel? This is weird, but you will see.
  6. Your mood. Do you have ups and downs? Are you depressed at all?
  7. Your digestion. Do you feel bloated every time you eat? Are your poops regular?
  8. Your cravings. Do you feel like some foods control you?
  9. Your allergies. Sniffly much?
My final request is that you really really do this. Don’t just do it a little bit. Please tweet me or comment or email me along the way if you are part of this June Paleo Challenge. I want to help you. Tweet me everything you ate that day—I don’t care! “Is it paleo?” is a perfectly acceptable question.

Don’t be afraid of paleo. I have to be honest; the first time I heard of this, I thought it was radical, impossible and downright insane. I thought I would never do it. They want me to eat a bunch of meat and fat?? No no no. Don’t they know how many Weight Watcher points are in that?!? This diet is all about eating what humans were designed to eat. The foods in this diet are designed to encourage lean muscle mass and diminish the storage of excess fat. Our bodies were designed to process natural, whole foods; not processed cereal bars. I subscibe to a few rules:

If it was alive once, and had a mother and father, eat it.
If it rots, eat it (Twinkies don’t rot).
If it came from a box or wrapper, don’t eat it.

It will all be very clear to you once you get the hang of it. It starts simple. Don’t think of all the things you cannot eat. Start with what you can. Imagine that you are living in the wilderness with no rations. What can your eat? What you can find and what you can catch or kill. Simple enough right? There are exceptions to the “what you can find” list so bear with me.

Proteins: Try you best to find the most natural and local sources of meat.
Beef - grass-fed is best
Pork – pastured is best
Poultry – free range and pastured is best
Eggs – I eat 3 every morning

Here are my local sources for quality meats in Lexington, VA.
Broadview Ranch: Beef and Pork (definitely try their chorizo)
Donald’s Meats: Chicken and bacon
Kroger (oh no she didn’t): Fish. I know, gross, but it really doesn’t much matter where you buy fish. You can’t really genetically alter fish, so you can’t go wrong here. If you have a choice between farm-raised and wild-caught (esp salmon), go for the wild-caught.
Outside of Lexington:
Trader Joes—this is a great source for frozen fish. Their frozen meats often come in single-lady portions, too, which is nice. Great source for grass-fed and pastured beef, pork, chicken and turkey. Stock up your freezer and this will go a lot smoother!
Fresh Market
Whole Foods
Central Market
I anticipate protein questions here. Beans? No. I’ll get to that.

Vegetables and Fruit:
For the first 30 days, you will be trying to detox and rid your body of sugar. Not sucrose or fructose in particular—ALL of it. You want to keep your fruit intake to a minimum. One apple can leave you craving more and more and worse, it can leave you wanting processed carbs. If you need fruit, go for berries and remember this rule, the darker the better. I will occasionally eat blackberries, blueberries or raspberries. You want to go for fruit with a low-glycemic index.

Here is a list of fruits I eat:

Fruits with high sugar content to avoid:

On this note, I should tell you not to drink juice. Not OJ, cranberry, apple, grape, or a mix. No no no.  I don’t care that there is no added sugar. Read the label. There is a hell of a lot of sugar in there and carbs. Carbs àinsulinàfat storage.

Veggies! Eat veggies. Especially nutrient dense, dark leafy greens. Avoid starchy tuber veggies. Pretty simple right?

Eat these:
Bell peppers
Brussels sprouts
Mustard greens
Swiss chard

Eat these in moderation:
Sweet potatoes

Don’t eat these:
White potatoes

Fats: OH MY GOSH. Please understand this: Eating fat does NOT make you fat. As long as you are keeping the carbs at bay, your fat cells will not open up to store your calories. Fat is fuel.

Good fats:
Avocado – eat lots of this
Coconut Oil – cook with this
Olive oil – do not cook with this. Only use it as a salad dressing
Animal fats (bacon!!)
Butter – the real stuff, not the fake stuff
Nuts and seeds with one exception, peanuts. Peanuts are legumes. Do not eat them.
Industrial seed oils including but not limited to: canola, soybean, grapeseed, sesame oils
Trans fats

Things to avoid at all costs:
Grains, legumes, dairy, sugar.

Here is a more in-depth look at what you cannot eat:
Wild rice
Black-eyed peas
Soybeans and all soybean products
Artificial or not, don’t eat sugar.
Diet Soda
Corn syrup
Alcohol. This one is up to you. A true 30-day paleo challenge means you have to avoid it. If you must drink, have a glass or 2 of red wine or maybe a vodka soda. Thats about it. 

What is paleo?
I have pooled together some of my favorite paleo resources I encourage you all to check out. Please visit all of these as they are much better at articulating the benefits of this lifestyle than I am!

The Whole 30 program. This is what we are doing. It is extreme but this is a perfect place to start. Visit this site and print this page:

Mark’s Daily Apple: this will provide a lot of answers to questions like, why can’t I eat corn and white potatoes? They’re vegetables! Why can’t I heat olive oil?
 Mark's Daily Apple (definitely check out the podcast, too)
Quoted from What is paleo?
“Eating paleo refers to eating as our ancestors once did, prior to modern day agriculture. We are genetically designed to eat lean meats, vegetables, some fruit, a little bit of starch and good fats.  By removing processed foods from our diets, including grains – especially those that contain gluten – one can protect him or herself from a myriad of modern day illnesses from obesity to heart disease and diabetes to cancer.  Why does eating paleo work and not a standard American diet?  The standard American diet stresses the importance of eating a high carbohydrate low fat diet, this approach to eating only leads to diseases such as type II diabetes, obesity, depression, and the list goes on and on… Also, grains – especially whole grains which contain gluten such as wheat and barley are proven gut irritants.  Eating paleo has helped hundreds of thousands reverse disease, lose weight, and feel an overall sense of heath and wellness. Try eating paleo for 30 days and see if YOU look, feel and perform better!”

Finally, here are some websites (besides mine) that will help you find some great recipes:


  1. Negin and I were wondering what you suggest as an exercise routine/ schedule to go with the June Challenge. We're trying to work out about 4 times a week and were wondering what you think!

  2. I bodyrock. It is a fast, free online at-home program that I've been doing about 9 months. It is high-intensity interval training. I LOVE it and I have no intention of doing anything different. It only takes a few minutes a day. They post 12 minute workouts every day. I usually do 2 of the 12 minute workouts 4 days a week (24 minutes each) and modify the exercises depending on the equipment I have available. You can find the workouts at
    Other than that, I'd jump into p90x or insanity. Same idea. Good luck!!! I'm aiming for a six pack at the end of this thing so I'm going to add in a couple of high intensity an workouts to my routine each week.

  3. i can't get your whole30 link to open... any other suggestions?


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