paleo vegan thoughtswritten by alison
Like almost everyone I know, I got to work building up some insulation on my body during the month of December (and November if we are being truly honest.) The stress of now having a house to pay for on a self-employment who-the-fuck-knows-what-will-be-made-next-month income was pretty big because I’m a worrier. And it’s no secret that the holidays are a busy time with many food-centered events.
It’s not all doom and gloom because I had a wonderful holiday season & enjoyed a break from work at the end of the month. Then came January and my goal to make better choices for myself. How cliché, right? I can’t help it, I’m a sucker for setting resolutions for January 1st.
My first resolution came in the form of breaking one of my biggest addictions in life – soda. It was my vice of choice and if I made it past lunchtime without one, the headaches and an awful mood kicked in. But I know how terrible the stuff is and also didn’t like being so dependent on it. If I go to Fiji for 3 weeks, I want to lay on the beach for days without worrying where I’ll get my next cold Diet Coke from.
So I drank the last of the fake Coke we had in the fridge on January 2nd and made Jeff promise not to buy any more. Armed with bottles of pain reliever, I felt ready to weather the storm.
What happened instead was fascinating, we were thrown into a polar vortex (think -40 degree windchills) so I had zero desire to leave the house to buy myself a cold fizzy drink. It also made me like tea because I wanted to consume anything warm to try and battle what was going on outside. Small amounts of caffeine in the morning paired with the fact that I work alone so no one had to endure my wrath for a few days led to a fairly easy transition off of soda. I can safely say I have only had 2 sodas since the 2nd, one the day before the paleo challenge and another last night to celebrate it’s end.
Speaking of the paleo challenge, that was my next decision after setting some healthy resolutions. The gym I go to (sometimes) was throwing a paleo challenge for 4 weeks from mid January to mid February. It had simple rules, potential to win prizes and an awesome t-shirt for anyone that didn’t cheat. Count me in!
Full disclosure, the one exception to the paleo challenge was made for vegans and vegetarians. We were allowed to eat beans as needed/wanted. Paleo vegan is tough, there’s no getting around it. So knowing that I could resort to eating some beans when I was feeling down made me feel a heap better than the last time I tried this thing.
I spent a lot of time in the kitchen. (Now is where you can say, “like any good woman should.”) I spent time cooking, cleaning up after cooking (hello dirty spiralizer, cutting board, pan, cookie sheet, food processor and plates) and standing in the kitchen eating. Because the reality is that my diet for 26 days was primarily composed of vegetables, avocados and nuts. If you know anything about calories, you’ll know that it’s hard to get a full day’s worth of calories for an athlete on 80% vegetables.
Did I want to cheat? Absolutely! But if there is one thing that you can count on is that my gym is ridiculously competitive when it comes to collecting gym related clothing. That non-cheater t-shirt was like a carrot being dangled in front of my face for the entire challenge. Pure motivation.
Still, I sincerely doubt that I would have survived this challenge without my spiralizer. Having an easy replacement to pasta and rice kept my meals feeling somewhat normal. (You can view some photos of my food, along with other challenge participants, here.) And my membership to Costco came in handy for buying 3 pound bags of almonds, pillow sized bags of broccoli, cauliflower, peppers, spinach, brussels sprouts, asparagus and 6 packs of avocados each week.
After eating an avocado almost daily for 4 weeks, my desire to get one tattooed on my body has increased exponentially. You haven’t lived until you’ve had a perfectly ripe sliced avocado topped with a drizzle of high quality oil, sea salt and black pepper. Mmmmmm.
Sorry if you’ve never wanted to see me in a sports bra, but I think this is the most telling way to share how the challenge went.
Aside from the obvious improvement in that I can smile now… you can pretty clearly see that the bottom row of “after” pictures features a more toned version of yours truly.
Do I love my love handles? No, not at all. But do I love the results of 26 days of hard work in the kitchen? Absolutely! Enough to stay paleo vegan? Fuck no.
To be honest, I do have a desire to keep some aspects of paleo in my life. I want to be better about not resorting to a box of pasta topped with store bought sauce every time I have a bad day at work. I know that chips, salsa and guacamole is not an acceptable lunch for someone that wants to not need airbrushed abs. But I also know that I went a little crazy trying to keep food around that was certified paleo vegan.
Aside from the photos above, my stats included a 6 pound weight loss (or 4.2% of my bodyweight), just shy of 3 inches lost off of my midsection and (THANKFULLY) only 1/2 inch lost off of my tush. My partner and I also performed significantly better at the workout that was done on day one and day 26 of the challenge. (Everyone else had a 27 day challenge, but we started one day later due to scheduling issues.) For a workout with 5 rounds featuring a different movement for each, we added 20-30% more reps to each round as a pair. That’s a significant performance difference, especially when you consider that we did the workout at 5am on a Friday morning to wrap up the challenge.
Being paleo vegan is no easy task, in my opinion, but the results are pretty telling. It was easier for me to get up around 6am compared to my usual 8am alarm but I wouldn’t label my energy levels as off the charts. Possibly because I needed more calories. Possibly because I felt like I was missing out. Who knows.
Plus, the girl in the bottom row of pictures above is pretty fine, if you ask me. She looks like a girl who put a lot of work into eating veggies all day, every day. I bet she’ll be the version of me that exists about 50-65% of the time. But when I go to Chipotle I’m getting rice AND tofu, dammit!
I will say that this morning I didn’t feel very stellar. I had spent all day yesterday, post workout, enjoying non-paleo foods like bread, tortillas, tofu, pita and white potatoes (plus that one DOC 360). Clearly my body didn’t dig that since I currently have a pounding headache and feel like a sloth. It could also be due to my being awake from 4am to 11:30pm yesterday, but that’s a mystery we will just have to mark as unsolved.