Friday, March 30, 2012

Updates: Regional Team and Iceland

CrossFit King of Prussia snuck into Regionals, tied for 29th and just making it into the top 30 teams to head to the Mid-Atlantic Regionals. I just found out that I made the team! I'm normally a pretty calm person, but this is really exciting to be part of something important to me a.k.a. representing the great community of CF KoP. This is our team's third time going to Regionals (first year they went to the Games!), but my first time on the team. Our owner, Aimee Lyons, is no longer on the fence and will be competing as an individual, so that will also be awesome to watch. Mid-Atlantic regionals will be held May 4-6th. Details can be found on the Games page. 

Also, to the three people who read this blog: I'll be in Iceland next week with Ditty, hopefully WODding with Iceland Annie and taking in all of the waterfalls, geysirs, and scenery, so if you don't see any postings, this is why! I'll put up some pics when I get back. Apparently it's a photographer's dream location with awesome lighting and crazy scenery. Forecast says it will be 60% rain almost every day, but we will make the best of it!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Constantly Varied Photos: CrossFit Open #12.5

Here are some photos I took during CF King of Prussia's day doing 12.5. (thrusters and chest to bar pull ups). Athletes young and old put on impressive performances!

Weird Guy in the Office

bone broth/grass fed roast soup and brussel sprouts
Are you that weird guy/girl in the office who brings ...::gasp::... *real food* for lunch? You know what I mean, instead of heating up that Hot Pocket or Lean Cuisine, you have a lunch bag full of meat, veggies, and fruit. Do people ask you about it or leave you alone? If they do ask about it, how far into the Paleo/Primal schtick do you go? Or what other angle do you take when confronted about your weird food? 

Don't even get me started on drinking coffee black...

Friday, March 23, 2012

Friday Video: Clean and Jerks at California Strength

You think your C+J don't stank? Donny Shankle runs a strong crew over at California Strength. Check out this latest video where athletes needed to complete 10 successful lifts (5 snatches and 5 clean and jerks) at 90% of competition weight to win money ($500 split). After this, go lift something.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Thoughts on Reebok CrossFit Open WOD #12.5

uhhh...see my post from last year, "Thoughts on CrossFit Open Sectional WOD 11.6"

on a side note, I was planning on doing this workout right when it came out anyway. To my surprise, it was the same as last year's workout, but I still went through with it (with KT, another member at KoP). I can now honestly say that at one point, I was 5th in the world for men, ha! 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Gabe of CF KoP

John Welbourne of CrossFit Football and Talk to Me Johnnie posted this blog Q+A. It's mostly describing CF Football, but at the end, there is a piece about consistency. If you were lazy and didn't click the link, here's the key quote:

"The only thing left to do is show up and do the work. But here in lays the problem. The reason 99.9% of people do not make gains or reach their goals is consistency.
Everyone can do it for a few days or even weeks, but can you be consistent for months? What about years? Consistency in your training means never missing a day. Consistency with your diet means making sure you eat your calories everyday.
Not the…”I didn’t eat for 2 days so I am going to gorge myself on the third to make up for it.”
If you follow the program as it is written with great consistency, eat with great consistency and rest you will be farther closer to your dream of playing college football than ever thought possible."

If you aren't making gains like you want, one big question you should ask is "How consistent have I been in my training?" My Open performance has been good, but could it have been better? Probably. Why? Because I haven't been consistent with training. No excuses, just the reality. This is a great reminder that those who put in hard CONSISTENT work will see the benefits, not just those who put in a lot of work SOME of the time. Gabe, pictured above, consistently practiced his double unders with the intent of getting on our 100+ double under board. Every day for weeks he practiced and practiced. Straight double unders, flight simulator, du's in workouts....Last week he finally reached 100. Hard consistent work paid off.

What will YOU do to be more consistent? 

What Malcolm Gladwell Has to do with Olympic Lifting

Monday, March 19, 2012

12.4 in Pictures

Saturday, at CrossFit King of Prussia, saw over 50 athletes complete workout 12.4. Here are some of the favorites that I (or Ditty) took. 

Friday, March 16, 2012

Oh SNAPshot: CrossFit Open 12.2

Ditty (my bride) PR'ing on the snatch at 75#...28 times. Coaches Aimee and Laura with lil' Chloe cheer on.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Thoughts on Reebok CrossFit Open WOD #12.4

Deadlifts. Double unders. Squat cleans. Muscle ups. Pistols. Pull ups. Wall balls. These were all things being predicted as movements for Workout 12.4 and three made the cut. Let's take a look.

Workout 12.4
Complete as many rounds and reps as possible in 12 minutes of:
150 Wall balls (20lb. to 10' for men, 14lb. to 9' for women)
90 Double-unders
30 Muscle-ups
For warming up, be sure to get that body temp up and blood flowing with some jogging, rowing, etc. Once you are warm and breaking a sweat (sometimes it takes me 20-30 minutes!) you'll want to work on your mobility for squatting, jumping, and muscle ups. Luckily Kelly Starrett has covered wall balls and muscle ups in the following video. (If we're lucky, he'll do another awesome video specifically for 12.4)

Here is last year's video from 11.1 where K-Star mobilizes you for snatches and double unders. Ignore the snatch prep unless you really want to reflect on 12.2. 

Overall, I think warming yourself up to be steady on the wall balls is key. Going out too fast or losing your lungs quickly is NO BUENO!

Wall Balls
Everyone that's met "Karen" knows that she kicks the crap out of you. Squatting (loaded or not) sends a lot of blood and oxygen to your legs and away from kind-of-important things like your lungs. The wall ball is a standard 20lbs. to 10ft. target for men, but for some ladies, you may be used to an 8ft. target. This is a 9ft. target whether you like it or not. Here's a few important notes:
1. The ball must touch the target or hit ABOVE the target. Any ball that misses below or doesn't hit the wall at all does NOT count. 
2. you CANNOT catch the ball off the bounce, it must be in a resting state if you drop it before you pick it up
3. you CANNOT use a box, ball, etc to check your depth. This is huge for those with mobility issues that usually use depth checkers. 
Don't get no-repped by not getting depth or not hitting the target. You're essentially doing the same amount of work and no-reps add up.

"Karen" is 150 wall balls for time. The important difference between that and this workout is your intensity level at the end. If you are pretty sure you are not going to complete 150 wall balls in the 12 minutes, then yes, go all out, especially in the last 60 seconds. Every rep counts and could mean a few hundred spots on the leaderboard. However, if you are confident you'll be under 12 minutes and will attempt double unders, you don't want to expend all energy to get a few seconds faster if the cost is laying out on the floor unable to recover for double unders. Strategy and pacing will be different from person to person. Some will do a big set (of let's say, 50) and then have smaller sets to do. Others will start and end with consistent sets of 20 or 30. This is something to play around with before you do the actual workout to see what works best for you. I think for most, smaller sets is better from the start.

Double unders
For those that don't know, double unders are jumping rope where the rope passes under your feet twice. You may do double unders with any single unders or rest in between, but only the doubles count. Don't have them? Take a look at the Mic'd instructor, Jon Gilson as he teaches the double under. 

Secrets to good double unders? Relaxed shoulders, arms in front of body, quick wrists, soft knees, and easy jump. Downfalls to double unders? Tight shoulders, windmill arms, stiff knees, donkey kicking, and hard landings. Practice, practice, practice. I was too lazy to try and get du's until a workout came up with 500 double unders. Instead, I had to do 1500 single unders and couldn't walk right for a week. After that I practiced everyday for a week and got double unders. Now I have 226 consecutive. 

Right after wall balls, see how much time you have. If it's a few seconds, do EVERYTHING you can to get SOMETHING. At this point I don't care if you jump 4 feet in the air in order to get a double under. Get one. If you have a decent amount of time, compose yourself and focus on breathing while jumping rope. I like to focus on a point on the wall in front of me or slightly above. Get through the 90 and move on to muscle ups. 

Muscle ups
This will be a game changer for most people. Even if you have muscle ups, your shoulders will be smoked from the double unders and lungs will be grasping for air. At this point, you might only have a few seconds or at most a few minutes to do what you can. You must start from the HANG with feet clearly not touching the ground. You do NOT need to turnout, but arms must be straight. Once at the top of the muscle up, you must demonstrate clear extension of the elbows into straight arms. No acrobatic uprises or variations are allowed. (If you don't know what those are, then you're probably not doing them). The biggest faults we'll see here are not hanging fully at the bottom and not locking out at the top with straight arms. You should have a really good judge to watch you do muscle ups since there are a TON of grey areas at the bottom and top of the movement. Of course what would this post be without instructions on how to get a muscle up. Here you go, again from the Mic'd instructor, Jon Gilson from Again Faster. 

If you are a member of the CrossFit Journal, they recently posted two great videos on components of the muscle up, as taught by gymnast coach Laurie Galassi. 

Before the workout was announced, I thought for sure it would be a couplet ladder. Something like 1 deadlift/1 wall ball, 2 deadlifts/2 wall balls, etc. in a time domain of 5-7 minutes. Clearly I was wrong.

This workout models itself off last year's 11.4 workout which was:
AMRAP in 10 minutes of:
60 bar-facing burpees
30 overhead squats, 120#/90#
10 muscle ups

Interestingly, they kept muscle ups as the third movement. I would have to assume this is because HQ wants many people competing and getting scores, and each movement acts as a gatekeeper of sorts for the next movement. Everyone can do at least one wall ball. Many will recognize the first part as "Karen" (150 wall balls for time), so they will have a good idea of where they will land. While most people have double unders, the preceding wall balls act as a gatekeeper to even reach the du's. As for muscle ups, your lungs and shoulders will be smoked, so only the efficient and strong will move on. Personally I wish it was 150 double unders and only 90 wall balls, but that's because I hate wall balls. This is a workout that won't necessarily please anyone, but will allow them to go hard and get work done, even if they don't move past the wall balls. 

The kicker is that it doesn't matter how fast you do Karen and/or double unders if you can't move to the next step. Much like the snatch workout, points are not given to doing the same amount of work faster. In other words, even if you complete 150 wall balls and 90 double unders with 4 minutes to spare, if you can't get a muscle up, you'll be equal to someone who finished 240 reps at 11:59. 

It's almost ridiculous that they call this an AMRAP, but I bet we see more than a few multiple rounds. For the elite, most will finish wall balls in the 5-6 minute range with the double unders as an afterthought. Muscle ups will allow gymnasts and efficient athletes to shine. Graham Holmberg, 2010 CF Games champion, got 265 reps (5 mu's short of a full round.) I'm going to call Rich Froning Jr. to the stage again with 300 reps. (1 full round + 30 wall balls). For women, Julie Foucher has this one. With her gymnastics background, she will excel at the muscle ups and get 260 reps. (150 wall balls, 90 du's, and 20 muscle ups)

UPDATE: here's some words of wisdom from two friends who did the workout:

-Mike C. - "Just a heads up dude. 12.4 is a nasty mother. Your quads will hate you."

-Pat B. - ""Haha, IT WAS AWFUL! Sooo, have a good steady rep scheme planned out for the wall balls and I would break them up into smaller sets with short rests in between them so you're fresh for double unders. Stay nice and loose on the double unders and break them up into 3-4 sets as needed. 30-30-30 or 30-20-20-20 which is what I had to do. Make the last set smooth and relaxed so you can feel fresh in the shoulders to hit muscle-ups. Have fun brotha!"

"About", "Start Here", and "Resources" Pages

After two years+ of having this blog, I finally have an "About" page. Maybe it was the fact that Robb Wolf mentioned this blog in his article "Is Red Meat Part of a Healthy Diet?" that finally did it, but either way it was a small project I had been putting off for months. 

The "Start Here" page is a place for brand new folks to head to, especially if they aren't sure what the Paleo diet is or what CrossFit is all about. It's a listing of internal blog posts focusing on the basics. Blogs are nice to convey information, but not if you don't know where to start or how to search for it!

Finally, the "Resources" page is a comprehensive list of links and external sources of information.  I basically moved this from the side bar to a separate page.

now I just need a graphic to go up top instead of just the boring title...ideas are welcome!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Red Meat Study: Here We Go Again

red meat: not the culprit!

Recently, Harvard came out with a study claiming that eating red meat may lead to a shorter life. Researchers examined thousands of people and correlated red meat consumption with an earlier death compared to those who consumed less red meat.

Here is the study if you'd like to take a gander at the charts: Red Meat Consumption and Mortality

I am not going to break this down in detail because plenty of similar studies have been put out there, but I do want to emphasize that CORRELATION does not imply CAUSATION. Is it true that shoe size is correlated with reading ability? Yes. Is it because bigger shoe size causes people to read better? No. The answer is that a twenty year old will typically have a better reading level compared to a five year old (and incidentally, also have a bigger shoe size)

You know what else the researchers found? "Men and women with higher intake of red meat were less likely to be physically active and were more likely to be current smokers, to drink alcohol, and to have a higher body mass index." Here's the table if you'd like to see for yourself. 

Also, let's talk about how they used data that was only taken from participants every 4 years. Every 4 years?? Yes, in the third line of the study researchers say "Diet was assessed by validated food frequency questionnaires and updated every 4 years." How reliable and consistent could this data be? Considering these questionnaires require participants to remember what they ate, I'm going to say not very.

Let's face it, although red meat consumption may be correlated with increased mortality rate, it in no way proves that red meat CAUSES it.

In this CNN article, Staffan Lindberg gives his take on it:
Staffan Lindeberg, M.D., an associate professor of medicine at the University of Lund, in Sweden, says singling out red meat may be counterproductive. A bigger threat to health is the sugar- and starch-heavy Western diet as a whole, says Lund, who studies heart disease and diabetes and advocates a version of the so-called Paleolithic diet, which emphasizes lean meats, fruits, and vegetables.
"We need to focus more on common foods, like grains, dairy foods, refined fats, and refined sugar," Lindeberg says.
if you prefer meat of the dried variety, make your own Homemade Jerky

I also couldn't believe that these researchers were villianizing saturated fat from the start. I thought media was heading in a good direction, but this clearly puts us two steps back. Plenty of vegetarians and vegans will use this as ammo when trying to talk you out of eating red meat. IGNORE THEM!

I don't disagree with the researchers recommendations to increase seafood intake, especially if it's omega-3 rich salmon, sardines, etc. As for cholesterol, you should already know that people's numbers normalize after taking SUGAR and GRAINS out of their diets, not meat. We are biologically omnivores, whether you want to admit it or not. So feel free to order that burger (especially if it's grass-fed!), just don't eat the bun and get it wrapped in lettuce instead. Yum.

 What are your thoughts on this study? Will it make you decrease, increase, or keep the amount of red meat you consume? 

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Thoughts on Reebok CrossFit Open WOD #12.3

Workout 12.1 allowed the light and fast to show off. 12.2 demanded either brute strength or refined technique. 12.3 is a classic triplet featuring three common movements found in the CrossFit world and a time domain that will be a game changer for sure. Let's take a look.

Workout 12.3

Complete as many rounds and reps as possible in 18 minutes of:
15 Box jumps (M 24" box / F 20" box)
12 Push press (M 115 lb / F 75 lb)
9 Toes-to-bar

 With longer workouts, efficient movement is key. You don't want to waste energy because it will add up over time. The first thing that will help you is mobility. Warm up the Achilles for box jumps, shoulders AND thoracic spine for push press, and midline for toes to bar. Foam roller is your friend, but so are lacrosse balls or tennis balls taped together. Here are some links to help you out, all from the mobility guru, Kelly Starrett:
-Perfecting the box jump with K-Star and Carl Paoli (aka much more information than you needed to know about the box jump) - UPDATE: instead of this long video, you might want to check out the one embedded below

If you can do this mobility work the night before or earlier in the day before the actual wod, it's going to help your body get organized even more. (Another reason to keep on your mobility everyday for any WOD, eh?) 

UPDATE: Here's a great video that covers prep work by Carl Paoli specifically for 12.3 and is not as long as the 23 min video on JUST box jumps above

Once your in the workout, moving efficiently will allow you to come out on top. Here are the components of the workout and best practices:

1. Box jumps - you must jump up to the box, you cannot step up. Once on top, you must stand straight up with hips and knees locked out, demonstrating control. You MAY NOT spring off immediately like a normal box jump. This will reduce cycle time, but it will do so for everyone. Once control is established, you may step down or jump down. There is no rule on whether your full foot should be on the box or not. To stay efficient, use the elasticity and fast twitch muscles to drop from the top of the box and spring back up. In other words, don't think of each box jump as starting on the ground and jumping up, but rather, starting on top of the box, dropping down, and immediately jumping back up. If you rest, rest on top of the box. I understand this might be hard for slower twitch people, but this is going to be the best way to cycle fast. Carl Paoli in the video above describes the top of the box as being "cold" and the floor being "hot." You don't want to be in the hot zone for long.

2. Push press - this must start on the ground, so you'll have to clean it to your shoulders. Although the workout calls it a push press, you MAY shoulder press, push press, push jerk, or split jerk the weight above your head. A full lockout and arms over ears with feet together (esp. if you are push jerking or split jerking) is a good rep.  You MAY NOT do the movement with the bar behind the neck. You MAY treat this like Fight Gone Bad style and cycle through push presses quickly. This is similar to the box jumps where you want to think about the top of the push press being "cold" and the bottom being "hot." Don't spend too much time resting with the bar on your shoulders. Rather, if you need to pause for a second, do it in a locked out position up top. This is a moderately heavy weight and smaller/weaker people will need to drop mid-set. Do your best to string all 12 if you can, this will make up significant time since we all know you won't want to pick that bar up if you drop it. Also, if this is a heavy weight for you, make sure to get that bar on the rack position aka the anterior deltoids aka your shoulders and chest, so that your BODY can move the bar, not your arms.

3. Toes to bar - this is a movement where you hang from a pull up bar and bring your shoes to touch the bar. I say shoes and not toes because any part of the shoe may touch the bar: the toes, the sole, or the top of the shoes. Once they touch, you have to bring your feet down and behind your body to establish full range of motion. This movement was in last year's sectionals and two things happen: hand ripping and midline failure. Make sure to tape up or use grips (grips are actually not allowed, see the ruling here). Here's a link to CrossFit Oahu's "Ultimate Hand Taping Round Up." Also, to be efficient, learn how to kip t2b. Here's a fantastic video from Jon Gilson and Again Faster on kipping t2b. Remember to close that shoulder like a kipping pull up.

Overall, play to your strengths, but consider your weaknesses. If you're a small and agile person, you might be fond of box jumps, but you're loathing the push presses. Make up time on the box so that you have more available on the bar if you need to drop and rest. If you like the idea of push presses, but you don't have the lungs to go 18 minutes, bang those out and stay smooth and steady on the box jumps. You get the point. For everyone, lungs will be burning and yes, it's going to hurt. Mentally it's going to be toughest in the middle, probably starting around minute 7 (I know some of you are saying minute 3), but hopefully you have good energy and the supportive environment to hammer the last round or two. 

Remember, every rep counts, (each round is 36 total reps) so  keep that in your mind when you're hurting but there's 30 seconds on the clock. Get as much work done as possible and you shouldn't be disappointed with yourself.

if this is how you feel at the end, then good!
This workout reminds me of the hero workout "Jack": 
AMRAP in 20 minutes of:
10 push press, 115/75
10 kettlebell swings, 55/35
10 box jumps, 24/20"

Having just done this a few months ago with Steve's Club kids, I found the push press to be the more challenging aspect. Ironically at the time, I had to break up the first few sets of them, but then strung the last few rounds. 

This workout is a different rep scheme, but around the same time domain. I think it's a more classic CrossFit workout and hopefully didn't surprise too many people, especially after two mono-modal workouts of burpees and snatches. I think the push presses will be the deciding factor; those who can handle the weight and string all 12 will prevail, even over those who can box jump or do t2b excellently.

Iceland Annie did the demo for mainsite and I think she's going to stay on top with 491 reps (13+ rounds). When she first came on the scene, there was a video of her doing t2b and she was just SO efficient at them. Add on top of that her strength, and you've got the #1 score for women. 

I'm giving Dan Bailey the nod this week. With the fastest deadlift/high box jump workout at Regionals last year and edging out Froning in last year's sectional workout involving t2b, I think he takes first with 450+ reps. Why less than Annie? Because women have a shorter way up on the box which will add up over time. And Annie is just a beast.

What are your thoughts on 12.3? Any predictions?

CrossFit Delaware Valley's take on 12.3 by Sheldon Danley - "Stay Calm, Keep Moving"

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

What Is the Paleo Diet? Paleo 101

You or someone you know wants to learn what this whole "Paleo" thing is all about. You've heard about it from friends raving about how they lowered their cholesterol, dropped pant sizes, and stopped taking their diabetes medicine. You've seen it on Facebook, Twitter, and now the media is covering stories about Paleo. Well, this is the post for you. 

This post is intended for the beginner who heard about this "Paleo" diet and wants to know more. When I did a Google search for "what is the paleo diet" I found some great resources, but ones that were either too long or focused too much on the wrong things in order to explain what Paleo is. You'll find many different definitions and viewpoints (both good and bad) about the Paleo diet, but I try to break it down nice and simple here so brand new people can get an understanding for what it's all about. Let's dive in and see what the Paleo Diet is and is not.

The Paleo diet is typically explained as trying to emulate the diet of our paleolithic ancestors. By doing so, we are consuming foods that our body have evolved to accept and avoiding foods that our bodies would reject. I will go into this idea further down below, but for now, this is a basic explanation. Many people familiar with the Paleo Diet would say it was popularized by Dr. Loren Cordain and Robb Wolf, but Walter Voegtlin actually suggested in 1975 that the ideal human diet should emulate that of our ancestors'. Since then, many people have popularized this idea of an ancestral diet or similar diets, such as Mark Sisson, Art Devaney, Weston A. Price Foundation, Kurt Harris, Dallas and Melissa Hartwig, and Mat Lalonde.

Paleo is not hard. There are no magical secrets, but rather, consistency. If you've ever had eggs and bacon for breakfast, you've eaten paleo. If you've ever had a salad and steak for dinner, you've eaten paleo. It's just that most people include grains, extra sugar, and other processed foods. Here is my take on what Paleo is:

"Paleo, or paleolithic nutrition, is an anthropological and scientific template for eating real, whole foods and avoiding inflammatory ones. But like all templates, it should be examined and then tweaked for one's needs." - Chris Plentus, Constantly Varied
NomNomPaleo's interpretation of MyPlate

5 Things about Paleo that are TRUE:
1. "Paleo is a recommendation for eating real food" - at it's very base, Paleo is about the QUALITY of food. To find out if food is generally good for you, consider if: it grows and dies; it can be found in nature; it goes bad; it has been around for generations. If you need a factory to make it, it's not food! In general, you'll be eating meat, fish, vegetables, fruit, spices, and nuts/seeds. You might think that this is too limiting, but I bet there are foods that you haven't even tried yet!

2. "Paleo is scientifically founded" - Paleo is not just eating what cavemen ate. In fact, very little food around today is the same as 50,000 years ago. Instead, we need to focus on what is biologically and chemically good for our bodies. Scientifically there are foods that are better for the human body and things that are harmful. Real, naturally occurring food is generally better while processed food is not. This is not just pseudo-science, this is the real deal! Links at the bottom of this post will lead you to more discussion about the scientific evidence.

3. "Paleo avoids grains" - this is where most people get off the boat, especially the conventionally "healthy" crew. In short, grains (wheat, barley, oats, rye, corn, etc) contain a number of things that are scientifically harmful to humans: gluten, lectins, phytates, and anti-nutrients being the most common. These things damage the gut lining, are pro-inflammatory, and can cause diseases that you wouldn't even realize. The argument for grains is that they are "heart healthy" and "whole grains are good for you." There is in fact, no science that back these claims, but more just "whisper down the lane" conventional wisdom that keeps grains around. If you look at the nutrition profiles of vegetables, they are powerhouses of vitamins and nutrients compared to whole grains. For those that are skeptical, I am not going to re-invent the lightbulb, but rather, send you over to Mark Sisson where he takes the most common arguments FOR grains and debunks them with scientific links and literature.

4. "Paleo avoids dairy" - This would be the main issue separating a "Paleo" diet from a "Primal" one. I mentioned a number of people associated with ancestral diets above, and many of them differ on the issue of dairy. At a basic level, adult humans did not evolve to drink another animal's milk. However, some experts agree that if the source is grass-fed and the person is not allergic, some dairy could be fine. While dairy is technically not Paleo, it IS supported by the Weston Price Foundation, Mark Sisson, and other highly regarded experts. They would all agree that grass-fed is absolutely better than conventionally grain-fed dairy.

5. "Paleo has been known to reduce or even cure diseases" - While this is not a medicine per se, it makes sense that feeding your body with natural food will typically have it respond in a favorable manner. For instance, there are plenty accounts of people's diabetes going away (their insulin is managed incredibly well on a paleo diet); fat loss is very common (for many different reasons); and even things that you may not associate with food lessen or even go away: ADHD (gluten free anyone?), Alzheimer's, rheumatoid arthritis, and yes, even acne, as my friend Laura Pappas has discussed. In terms of fat loss, now there is no need to count calories because nature has a funny way of maintaining insulin levels and leptin sensitivity (the "feeling full" hormone). If we eat protein and fat, we feel full longer. You simply can't eat a ton of calories of spinach. Thank you nature!

Pasta? No way. Spaghetti Squash.

Things about Paleo that are FALSE or MISLEADING:
1. "Paleo is the way cavemen ate" - Yes, this is a nice and tidy heuristic for explaining Paleo to grandma, but it is NOT the be all, end all. While we can use this idea as a framework, it should not be the rule of eating. In other words, just because it's paleolithic does not make it "good;" conversely, just because it's neolithic does not make it "bad." Here are two examples: our paleolithic ancestors had honey available to them, but this does not mean we should eat a pound of honey. The reverse is true too. "Cavemen" did not have ghee (clarified butter) but experts would agree that it is a great thing to cook with and consume. Our ancestors also didn't have the internet or cars, but it doesn't mean we shouldn't use them.

2. "Paleo is low carb" - this one is super misleading. When people hear that grains are harmful (not just to celiacs!), they say "where do you get your carbs?" Carbohydrates can come in the form of vegetables and fruits. Yes, your diet will probably be lowER in carbohydrates, but it does not mean you have to live VLC (very low carb) or no carb. In fact, for CrossFitters or people who are involved with glycogen-demanding activities, higher carb is going to be better. These carbs are best served in the form of sweet potatoes, white rice, and squash.

3. "Paleo is high protein" - again, not true. Although you might know a lot of CrossFitters who eat a ton of protein, this is their choice of tweaking the macronutrient profile of their food. Remember, Paleo describes the QUALITY of food, not the QUANTITY. Yes, you can even be vegetarian and paleo, or even vegan and paleo. Personally I don't think these are best choices for health and longevity, but you CAN do it.

4. "Paleo is a diet" - If by "diet" you mean a short term way of losing weight to look good for bikini season, then no, I would not go in with mentality. This is not a cleanse, not a crash diet, not a way to starve yourself. However, if you mean "diet" as in an everyday manner of eating that is sustainable, healthy, and live-able, then yes, it's a diet. There's a difference between regular car maintenance and car wreck repair. Same for eating.

5. "Paleo has a hard and fast set of rules" - This is probably the most frustrating thing when discovering what Paleo is. Yes, there are lists of Paleo and non-Paleo foods out there, but these are meant to guide you and offer you ideas for foods that you may not have thought of. Something to know is that there is NO perfect food out there. (and certainly no "super foods" such as the over-hyped acai berries). So don't even bother with "is this Paleo? is that Paleo?" Use your noggin and do some of your own thinking.  Do what works for you. As I mentioned above, some people can consume a little dairy in the form of butter, cheese, even milk. Is this technically Paleo? NO! But is it going to kill them? Probably not. I eat grass-fed butter and lots of animal fat, so does that make me not Paleo? Some hardliners would say so, but that's ok. When you do your research, you're going to be confused and probably want a black and white answer. Well heads up cowboy (or cowgirl), you're not getting one. Everyone's situations and needs are different, so what works for one person might not work for you. You might agree that raw broccoli is good for you, but for the person with a thyroid problem, it's a very bad thing. Paleo is contextual!

a classic favorite: Mexi Salad

 At one point, I was against using the term "paleo" because too many people think of the caveman reference as the only heuristic. However, I've realized it's too ubiquitous to ignore. The term is unique and draws attention to some guidelines for eating rather than a specific one-size-fits-all diet. It's very easy to catch someone's attention by mentioning Paleo rather than "anti-inflammatory, insulin sensitive diet."So although I've now embraced using "Paleo," there is much latitude and context within that term, especially when it comes to things like dairy, rice, beans, etc.

I'm going to leave you with my definition of Paleo again. It's probably not the best one out there, but I think it works and encompasses the ideas of using science to figure out what is better for our bodies, while allowing individual circumstances to guide our food choices.

"Paleo, or paleolithic nutrition, is an anthropological and scientific template for eating real, whole foods and avoiding inflammatory ones. But like all templates, it should be examined and then tweaked for one's needs." -Chris Plentus, Constantly Varied

Since you're probably reading this as a beginner to Paleo, check out the links below for more information and leave any questions you have in the comments section. 

THE NEXT STEPS (previous blog posts that will help you)



Everyday Paleo
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