Monday, September 16, 2013

30-Day Challenge + Paleo Thoughts

And so it begins. The Healthy Life 30-Day Challenge put on by our CrossFit starts today and we are armed with meat, produce, and iron determination. I'm somewhat embarrassed to be announcing another challenge after the flop that was our Spring of Self-Improvement (aka Paleo-Faileo), but this time around feels different. We are committed. And it helps that our gym friends are in on this, too. If you care to see what the challenge involves you can read all about it here, but basically we need to exercise 5 days/week, eat paleo, avoid all alcohol and added sugars, keep a food log, de-stress, and get 8 hours of sleep every day.

To kick things off, we made a special Mexican Independence Day-inspired paleo dinner of slow-cooker carnitas and cauliflower rice with shredded cabbage, salsa, and avocado. It was a-ma-zing. I am stoked slow-cooker season is upon us; minimal effort, maximum flavor - I love throwing everything in before work and them coming home to heavenly smells.
{paleo dinner #1}
I'll be documenting some of our favorite paleo meals and overall progress throughout the month and look forward to living healthier. Game on!

Long but related ramble: I had a lively discussion with a co-worker about the paleo diet and came to realize it can be a polarizing topic. My colleague basically feels it's "the latest fad" and that it's unhealthy to eat so much meat. Here are my thoughts: Sure, the caveman thing is fad-ish - I don't buy into that part, it feels gimmicky. We are not cavemen/women, we do not hunt wild game and forage for berries, but that's not the point. The point is that paleo advocates filling your plate with tons of vegetables and nutrient-dense proteins, instead of processed foods. I am 100% sure eating natural, whole foods is essential for our natural human bodies and I find that when I am eating paleo, veggies take the place of processed foods on my plate. I'm no nutritionist, but filling my plate with vitamin-rich produce feels intuitively healthier than a side of bread/rice/pasta, which has little nutritional value and spikes insulin. (Of course, not to knock a slice of good bread every now and again. I love you, bread.)

As for the meat, I am a committed carnivore but totally respect people who are vegetarian for ethical reasons or otherwise. Except for a terribly unsuccessful year as a vegetarian in high school - a year that had me replacing the meat in my diet with some veggies but mostly with pre-packaged, manufactured, gluten/soy-filled, unsatisfying junk - I have always eaten meat. I find that I feel better with meat protein in my diet, so I have no problem eating other animals. Having said that, I do have a problem eating animals that aren't being treated humanely. Flavio and I make a point to eat grass-fed, pasture-raised, hormone-free, organic, and local whenever possible and though it's more expensive, I see it as voting with my dollars to keep more ethical operations in business.

Paleo is not for everyone and I'm definitely not hardcore (obviously, um, yesterday's post was on Funfetti cupcakes!), but I know there are some health lessons to be gained from trying to eat a minimally processed, natural foods, insulin-friendly diet like paleo. If you're interested in reading about 6 Health Lessons From The Paleo Diet, Huff-Po recently posted an article.

Eating is complicated - it's entwined with our social, cultural, and emotional selves, and there is so much conflicting information on what's healthy. I think most of us are just trying to do the best we can, and to each their own.


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