Tips for a paleo challenge

Now that I know that one of my my only reader has been inspired to do the January Whole30 challenge with me, I feel compelled to share some things I’ve learned from previous challenges.

1. You’re going to be hungry. Very hungry. If this is your first time eliminating the grains, sweeteners and other common aspects of the Standard American Diet, you’re going to find your body will need to take some time to get used to these changes. If you’re keeping up or perhaps even increasing your activity levels as part of this challenge, the need for fuel will definitely play a big part in this. Remember to drink lots of water, but if you’re hungry, then you should eat! This may also be you experiencing a not-full feeling at the end of a meal for the first time in a long time. This is often something that many people in this country aren’t used to. It’s actually ok to feel a little hungry when you’re done eating a meal!

2. You’re going to be tired. Very tired. But only for a few days and then you’ll get past it. This is likely from cutting out sugar and all those diet sodas or energy drinks that help get you through the afternoon lull. I know that feeling of staring at the clock and wondering how you’re going to make it through the rest of your day. Don’t worry though, you’ll get through this, albeit maybe with the help of some napping. Perhaps this is a sign that you’re not getting enough sleep anyway.

3. Cook! You may be surprised to learn two things: first, it’s pretty difficult to know what’s actually IN the foods you order from restaurants. Servers either don’t know or don’t have time to go ask. Not to mention most “restaurants” are basically reheaters of most food these days…the food distributor is the one in charge of actually making the food and knows what the ingredients are. Secondly, if you can find out, you’ll be surprised at all the extra ingredients in what you thought was pretty basic food. And these ingredients usually don’t work well with the rules of a challenge like the Whole30. For example, Chipotle cooks all of its meats (except carnitas) in corn oil. Think that salad you ordered is safe? Guess again – most vinaigrettes have sugar as an ingredient. When you cook, you eliminate this guesswork. Go to the grocery store, focus on perimeter shopping, and buy good, whole food. Then take these home and prepare them. You’ll be the one in charge so there’s no worrying about ingredients. Of course, if you do venture into any of the aisles, make sure to read labels. And if it’s from the deli counter make sure to ask what’s in the meat if it’s anything more than just raw meat. Sausage frequently has canola oil (not a prohibited ingredient but not the best choice). Bacon has sugar! You get the picture. At least the meat counter guys will be able to answer your questions, unlike those hapless restaurant servers.

4. Plan, plan, plan. What’s the point of these challenges? It may seem like the idea is to make your life hell for thirty days, but the point is actually to change the way you think about what you put into your body. Reconnect with your body. Think about what you put into it and concentrate on how putting only quality, healthy, whole foods makes you feel. It’s about rearranging your life. It’s about focusing on your health and wellness. Here’s the biggest revelation I’ve had from these types of challenges: eating well and exercising are much easier when you stop trying to force them into your life by working around everything else. Make health and wellness the foundation. It’s ultimately the most important thing and everything else should be built around that. Stop trying to squeeze in a workout after work. Instead, get up earlier and make exercise the first thing that you do. Stop trying to order the healthy thing at that fast food place because it’s all you have time for and start enjoying healthy food that you make. Ok ok I know that’s much easier said than done when time is a precious commodity. How do we make this work when the vast majority of our day is taken up by things like working and commuting? Easy – just plan ahead! Unless you’re very lucky you don’t have time to cook a fresh, healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. Try cooking large meals that you can heat up throughout the week. Sundays are my shopping and cooking days. I spend a few hours preparing on Sundays so that I can just enjoy good food effortlessly for the rest of the week. Try making a big quiche and reheating a square each morning. Cook fifteen chicken thighs and reheat 2-3 each day for lunch. Here are a few of my favorite cook-big-and-reheat recipes:

Caramelized onion frittata
Lamb tagine with dates (you’ll have to remove some of the ingredients from this if you’re on a Whole30)

These are all tips that have helped me get the most out of wellness challenges. What works for you?


About gowestyoungfam

We just moved to Denver from Chicago and are excited about sharing the details of our new adventures!
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2 Responses to Tips for a paleo challenge

  1. Lisa Hendey says:

    Your reader, reporting for duty. This is going straight to the Evernote folder I’ve started for this project, but I’m also going to share the news that I’m doing the challenge and share this too, to keep myself accountable. I survived day 1 – not sure if I told you, but I hurt my back on Sunday and was stuck on the couch (very unusual for me) the last few days. After a great night’s sleep last night, I’m finally feeling a bit better. My plan today is to stock up using the Whole30 shopping list but I love your idea of cooking a few big recipes to last me through the next two weeks. Also, we are going out of town next weekend on a college visit, so I need a blog post specifically about how you handle eating out when you can’t cook for yourself, or what to pack along on my trip for a few of the meals that I can take with me. So maybe that can be a post some time this week or next! Thank you for your support – I need it, and you’re a great inspirer! 1 day down, 29 to go – but if things go as planned it’s one day down, a lifetime to go…

    • Lisa – that’s a great idea for a post! Keeping it up while traveling can be very difficult but there are absolutely things you can do to stay the course 🙂

      Sorry to hear about your back but glad that it’s feeling better!

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