A Paleo Post…On Valentine’s Day???

Valentines Day

I’m a Paleo fan, and a few people have pinged me with questions about my weight loss so I thought I’d share a few of my learning’s publicly. And by the end of this post, I am going to figure out some clever tie-in to Valentine’s Day.

After many years of failure, I finally learned the premise that 80% of weight loss happens in the kitchen–not the gym. Some people say “well, everything in moderation.” (just who are these “some people”?!?!?!). Yes, moderation is great if you’re capable. Me, not so much.

Put a box of Lucky Charms in front of me, and, well you’ll see how little willpower I have against that little Leprechaun magic. Same with Peanut Butter Crunch (ugh the damage it does to the roof of your mouth!).

I like Paleo because it works for me. What does “works for me” mean? Over the last four months I’ve lost nearly 40lbs, increased my muscle mass by almost 10lbs, and my bodyfat has decreased from ~25% to ~12% today. I still have work to do, but I am getting closer to my goal  of 9% BF by April.

I know as little about the science of Paleo as I do marathoning (nil), though that didn’t keep me from writing about the latter so it won’t keep me from writing about the former. Furthermore (who talks like that?), my lack of knowledge didn’t keep me from losing weight. Which is proof enough that you don’t REALLY need to know much to get started. You just need to get started. 

One of the things that motivated me were seeing lots of before/after pictures of people who lost weight. Someday I’ll post my before/afters, though I still don’t have the guts to do it yet. Perhaps at the 180-day mark…

In no particular order, here are a few tips I’ve learned along the way: 

1. Find a plan that works for you. I am convinced some shouldn’t do Paleo, and instead would be better off pursuing a plan of vegan/vegetarianism, SouthBeach, Pritikin, others. Pretty much anything other than what the USDA recommends (only partly sarcastic). The point is find something that works for you and stick with it. Are some better than others? Sure. But even a decent plan brilliantly executed is better than the reverse. So don’t get so cerebral on it, go make something happen.

2. Check out Paleo. It worked for me. It might work for you. I happen to like it for lots of reasons, even though my research last summer showed it ranked as one of the worst weight loss plans according to some “experts” (who are probably somehow genetically related to the “some people” I referenced a few paragraphs above). If I’d listened to these “experts” I wouldn’t have tried Paleo. And I’d probably still be overweight.

3. Pick something and go. I did 30-minutes of research on Paleo, then decided to do it for at least a few months to see the results. Don’t drown yourself in analyzing. Just start. You really do not need to know that much information to see significant results. Once you plateau, then you can dig in and fine tune–which is something I’m doing now (e.g. I have done another 30 minutes worth of reading–that should be enough to give me ideas on improvements to get me to my final goal). Whatever you choose, give it at least 90-days. Nothing massive will happen in a week. If it does, that’s called water weight. Your body can’t really lose more than 1.0-2.0 lbs of fat/week.

4. Post workout, I use a recovery protein with grass fed whey though I’m still experimenting. Some swear by vegetable protein, others soy, etc. I only use a protein supplement on heavy workout days at Crossfit, or after a very long run.

5. Remember, the key to weight loss: calories in < calories burned. There’s some basic math to this. You have to intake fewer calories than you expend, though there are ways to make this more efficient. Sorry there’s no magic bullet, however…

6. There IS the Nutribullet! Basically it pulverizes and blends vegetables and fruits together to make a delicious drink. I generally have one of these daily, and use a lot of kale as my base, some flax seed, plain almond milk, water, and a mix of some fruit. Careful not to create a 600 calorie drink, though. I keep mine to under 300 calories.

7. Fats are good. I don’t go overboard with fats like butter, coconut oil, etc. But I do use them, helps with satiety and it’s healthy in “moderation.” Also, grass fed beef is the best if you’re a carnivore, worth paying a bit extra for it rather than the grain-fed stuff.

8. Sweet potatoes are a godsend. I eat one a day. It’s a great carb. Every Sunday I throw 7-8 in the oven, then put them in the fridge, and that’s one of the quick sources of food for the week. Can be a side or a meal (to make it a meal I’ll throw peanut butter or coconut butter on it).

9. I eat a banana with almond butter every day. The most compelling argument to me for evolution would be my own personal love of bananas (no, I do not believe in evolution–no, I am not making fun of those of you who do). Literally, I store bananas everywhere like a fall squirrel hiding away his food in North Dakota. I’ve found bananas under my car seat, in backpacks and workout shoes, the list goes on. By the way, can I just use this moment to pose a question: if bananas were $39 a pound instead of 39 cents, do you know how much all of us would be talking about how much we love and crave this new “superfruit” called a banana?.

I also carry packets of almond butter with me everywhere I go, they’re small single server foil packs from Justin’s. I have this as a snack around 3pm daily, or if I’m in a bind and really busy I’ll have this in place of lunch or breakfast.

10. I generally don’t drink alcohol during the week, and when I do consume it is generally only red wine, and it is reserved for California wines that I love, or good tasting tequila (which, I realize makes me sound like such a lush but those are the Paleo friendly drinks and if I drink tequila I sip it slowly).

11. I switched to green tea during the week (though today is an exception where I have ominously blended Peets and Starbucks coffee together). Why do I do this? I don’t know. I probably read an article from an “expert” somewhere. Why is the sky blue?

12. Real food is often best. I’ll use shakes or whatnot to provide satiety and reduce calorie count, or certain shakes for protein post aggressive workouts, but you really need to eat high quality real food too. Though I LOVE cooking, I also like efficiency. So the food I consume during the week is usually quick and easy, and I’ll save the fun stuff that takes a while to prep for the weekends.

13. YOU MUST HAVE CHEAT MEALS. But they must be exceptions. Every week, plan up to three cheat meals. That way you can look forward to it. Try not to do it on the fly, because one becomes three becomes five…I have two cheat meals a week (usually one dinner and one breakfast/brunch), and then after every one of my long runs on the weekend (so long as it’s >10 miles) I’ll have a Quickly bubble tea–Taro flavor, of course. Everything else during the week is strict Paleo. Don’t totally deprive yourself. What I love about the cheat meal is a) I have something to look forward to during the week (sad? perhaps…), and 2) I never feel guilty when I’m eating my cheat meal.

There they are. My 13 tips. In no particular order. And even if there’s nothing novel or helpful in here, or even parts are inaccurate, I’m proof that the results are really in the application. Your battle is in the kitchen. And it’s one you can win.

Oh, and the tie-in to Valentine’s Day?

Food and Valentine’s Day…Geesh, I am on the verge of it, but nothing THAT witty has come to mind. Perhaps someone else can come up with something witty to finish this post for me, for now I’m hitting submit and grabbing another cup of my Peets and Starbucks blend that I made today called “Opposites Attract” (if only it tasted great…). 🙂

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