10 Tips for Making it Work
- Get some support!
Honestly, getting to the point that I’m at now (90% of the foods I eat are Paleo and things are going smoothly) was a pretty slow process, with a lot of pitfalls along the way. I first heard of the Paleo Diet in 2010 and tried it a couple times (before having friends that were also into it), eventually falling back into my love of macaroni and cheese and giving up. The diet didn’t really stick until I joined CrossFit and I felt like I had a group of people who were semi-interested in seeing me make it work. Having a group of people that you can talk to about your struggles and goals is really crucial. For all the CrossFit Paleo-ers, you’re in luck! You have your box & your coaches to consult with. Don’t forget to stay vocal about your concerns! You are more likely to stick to your goals if you feel accountable to your team and to your self proclamations. If you don’t feel like you have the support network to make your way through the challenge, find it. Go talk to a coach. Start posting on the blogs. GET INVOLVED. Sometimes, just saying your goals out loud to another person will give you a months worth of motivation… so speak up. Do you think I post my goals on this blog because I think you’re interested in them? I don’t. I post my goals on the blog because I feel pressure to achieve them once I state them out loud. This is what works for me.
- Get the junk out of your cabinets!!
I really can not emphasize this enough. Clear the fucking boxes of pasta out of the cabinets. Just throw them away, or if they are un-opened, go donate it to a homeless shelter. I don’t care how you do it, but you need to do it. Get rid of the pasta, the ramen, all those cans of beans, the cans of soup, the packets of sugar, the hot coco-mix, the sodas, the twinkies, the ice cream, the peanut butter, the jelly…. basically everything that isn’t a hunk of meat or a chunk of plant. Honestly, having these foods within eye sight is how slip ups happen. If you haven’t gone to the grocery store… you’re hungry… and that junk is just sitting there waiting for you… you’ll eat it. So just get rid of it, today. Seriously. Do it. Right now… Did you do it yet?
- Stock your fridge with fresh produce and DO IT REGULARLY!
Never let your fridge and freezer go empty, ever. Now that you don’t have all the junky processed foods keeping your cupboards loaded, it’s important to make sure your fridge is full, appetizing, and understandable (know what meals you can make with the ingredients that are in your fridge). If you’re in a situation where you don’t have food in the house and your hungry, you are much more likely to order take-out. And, as soon as you open that take-out menu you are already going in the wrong direction, so it’s not to far fetched to think that the pad-thai sounds more appealing than the saute’d shrimp & veggies without the rice… and then you’re screwed. So keep your fridge packed with produce and eggs and your freezer packed with meat. In fact, keep it so packed, that you’re worried you might not be able to eat it all by the end of the week. Wouldn’t you be sad if you had to throw away that whole bunch of Kale because you were lazy and you ordered take out instead of cooking? Yes. You would feel terrible. Keeping your fridge full of healthy foods will keep your wallet fat and your belly slim. So plan to go grocery shopping every weekend.
- Learn to cook
Eating a paleo diet without knowing how to cook is damned near impossible (unless you eat salads for every meal… and even then, how do you cook the protein?). So you need to learn the basics at a minimum. Commit to learning how to cook at least 1 breakfast meals, 2 lunch meals, and 3 dinner meals that you really like. Then, work off of those to expand your cooking talents. The recipe’s I’ve posted on this blog have been cooked in my house DOZENS of times. Some of them 2 or 3 times a week. To be honest, I eat 2 eggs fried in olive oil and a side of salsa and guacamole almost EVERY SINGE MORNING because it’s healthy, it’s quick, and I like it. Learn to make 3 meals you like, and repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Then consult your support network for more recipes when you feel like you’re going to barf if you eat it one more time. Getting used to cooking, and a limiting diet is tricky and sometimes it sucks in the beginning but, the good news is, the more you cook, the better you get at it, and the better you get at it, the better your meals get! So learn to cook.
- Cook in bulk and enjoy leftovers all week long!
This is something that took me a while to learn, but has proved to be really helpful in avoiding slip-ups. Having to cook all your meals can be annoying and overwhelming, also finding paleo lunch solutions near your job can be nearly impossible. So having food already made for when you need it is really nice. If you set one day a week aside for cooking a massive pot of stew or a whole tray of lasagna that you can divvy up into Tupperware containers you will be set for the week. Obviously we’re all busy but if you know will be home that day catching up on chores or schoolwork, plan to put something in the slow cooker to cook while you’re working! You will thank yourself later in the week.
- The freezer is your friend
This goes along with stocking up on produce but I think the freezer is so incredibly important in my life that it gets it’s own number on this list. I would even recommend getting a chest freezer. Buy massive quantities of meat whenever you see a good deal, cut it into serving sizes, press it into a zip lock bag, and just throw it in the freezer. When you want to eat it, throw the zip-lock bag in some water to thaw and in an hour (or less) you have your meat ready to cook! You need to have a good source of protein available to you, so stock up on it when it’s cheap, and enjoy it all year long.Currently my freezer is loaded up with a variety of cuts of grass-fed beef, venison (hunted by my dad), pork, bacon, quail, pheasant, duck, chicken, lamb, fish, shrimp, more ground beef than you can even begin to imagine, veggies from this summer’s CSA overflow, tupperware containers of chicken stock, beef stock, and leftover dinners from last week. In my opinion THIS IS AWESOME!
- In a crunch, eggs will save your ass
Eggs are cheap, readily available at EVERY grocery store and bodega in NYC, tasty, healthy, and easy to cook. I usually have 3-4 dozen eggs in my fridge on a given day and Jeff and I eat them all the time. They are my go to “lazy” food and they have saved me from ordering take out hundreds of times. If you get home from work, you’re hungry, and you don’t feel like cooking… fry two eggs and eat them. They will hold you over until you’re feeling more motivated to cook something with veggies and more protein. Also, if you don’t think you’ll EVER feel motivated that day, you can make a million different meals with them. So ALWAYS have them in your fridge. Disclaimer: Because I eat so many eggs, I make sure to get organic cage free chicken eggs. I would feel sad supporting farming practice that treat the chickens super badly. If you eat a product EVER DAY it’s worth the extra couple bucks to aim for the better quality, flavor, nutrition, and animal treatment.
- Bored? Try adding some herbs and spice!
It may surprise you to know, that this meat lover, used to be a vegan. And while I was vegan, as most vegans do, I learned to cook quite well with spices (vegan food gets reallllllyyyyy boring without spices). I learned all about Indian food and Mexican food, and Thai food, and Middle Eastern food! All spice friendly foods. As a vegan I ate the rice but not the meat… now I eat the meat but not the rice… Much Better! Start experimenting with spices and international recipes, it will help you find your way out of a food funk every time.
- Snack smart
In my experience it has been much easier to just avoid sweats and treats all together, rather than enjoy the paleo versions of them. I haven’t found paleo alternatives to cookies and cakes to be that good… and they are not good for you at all! Plus, once you get the sugary taste in your mouth, you are perpetuating a sugar addition that is better to just knock dead once and for all. If you need to snack (which if you are eating enough fat, protein, and calories you probably won’t even want to do) just have a piece of fruit and a couple nuts. Or! Cook a couple eggs. OR! Drink 32 oz of water…. that will usually KILL any sort of snack attack dead in its tracks.
- It’s OK to go out drinking and not drink. NO ONE thinks it’s as weird as you think it is
As a 20 something living in New York City….I understand that drinking is an important part of your social life. All anyone in this city EVER wants to do is go out and drink and because of the subway, you can’t volunteer to be the designated driver to get them off your back about why you aren’t drinking. Learning that it was OK to not drink when I went out with my friends took me a long time… but I have done it! I’ve convinced friends, my bartenders, AND MYSELF that I can sit at a bar, while others drink, NOT drink, and still have fun. First, just explain to your friends that you are training, this usually shuts them up — They get all “OH JESUS! You and this CrossFit stuff?! You’re making me feel fat!” But eventually they shut up. Then, at the bar, order a seltzer and lime AND TIP THE BARTENDER!!!!! The tip is very important. This keeps them liking you, coming back to you when you are waiting for another one, and it keeps them from getting annoyed that you are wasting their time. If you tell your friends you’re doing this, and you tip the bar tender… you’re set. 2 drinks down, the friends will totally forget that you aren’t drinking and the bartender will still love you. Plus you just saved yourself $20.00 and a shitty day at the Box tomorrow! GO YOU!