Before I started eating Paleo, I had a number of doubts about the approach. For a long time, I questioned whether or not the Paleo approach would improve athletic performance, result in higher energy levels, and increase the functionality of my internal health. One day, I decided that the only way to find out if all these claims about Paleo were true was to dive on in and give the diet a whirl. One year later, the rest is history: I have gained 5 pounds of lean muscle mass, run faster than ever, am steadily progressing each week at CrossFit, have strangely high energy levels all day long, and no longer suffer from debilitating anxiety. Simply put: the Paleo approach works.
Two things were exceptionally difficult about transitioning from the Standard American Diet (aka: SAD) to a Paleo approach to eating. First, I was hesitant to believe that giving up the foods I grew up eating was going to be beneficial. I had spent nearly 30 years eating sandwiches, dairy products, enchiladas, and pasta. I wasn’t overweight and I could run 13.1 miles in under two hours. I didn’t suffer from lack of sleep or stomach cramps or digestive trouble. I was a healthy young woman. What benefit could be had by giving up my favorite foods? The second problem was more logistic – I was willing to give Paleo a shot, but had no idea where to begin. What could I eat if a sandwich was out of the question? What dessert could possibly replace my famous peanut butter chocolate cake? What in the heck is a slow cooker? If I was going to do this, I was going to do it right and desperately needed resources and a support network.
Whenever you endeavor on an ambitious new goal – such as setting up a new dietary regimen – it is important to enlist a support network. Some people turn directly to their family and friends for weight loss support, while others look toward personal trainers and nutritionists. As much as I love my family and friends, I knew that they were not about to join me in a dietary pursuit that excluded things like beer, wine, cupcakes, dinner rolls, and artisan cheese. It just wasn’t going to happen. I enlisted the support of my personal trainer, Molly, who dove headfirst into the Paleo world with me. We did our research, bought some books, and developed meal plans. We touched base once a week to hold each other accountable, but I needed more feedback and support than she was able to provide. So, I turned to the internets, where I found a treasure trove of resources. Here are my favorites:
Caveman Feast, by George “The Civilized Caveman” Bryant. One of the first things I did when I went Paleo was head down to Barnes & Noble to pick up a couple cookbooks on the subject. Browsing the cookbooks, I noticed that there were no Paleo cookbooks in stock that weren’t also “diet books.” I don’t know about you, but I only needed to read the science behind Paleo once to decide it was a good idea for me. Investing in a dozen diet books with slightly different recipes seemed like a huge waste of money. Defeated, I returned home and went back to searching the interwebs. I came across some favorite blogs (links below), one of which had recently published a fantastic E-Book of recipes. Delicious recipes. No science-y mumbo jumbo – just clean, easy, and affordable Paleo meals that didn’t make me crave a slice of pizza. With over 200 recipes that cover every from breakfast to dessert (and even a midnight snack or two), I would highly recommend picking up George’s e-book. E-Books are totally cool now – by purchasing this book, you’ll be able to eat delicious meals for months on end and save the environment by keeping paperbacks on the shelfs. Totally a two-for-one deal, right? And… George’s book is on sale right now – only $20 by following this link for my blog readers!!
Nom Nom Paleo’s iPad App. I swore that I would never be one of those people that had a MacBook Pro. Or an iPhone. Or seven iPods. Or and iPad. Last week, I cleaned out my office and found no less than 9 Apple products. SO embarrassing. Like, way more embarrassing than spending a Friday night at home with a bottle of boxed red wine and a stack of Reese Witherspoon rom-coms. Anyways, I have a plethora of gadgets, use only 3 of them, and only use one of the (the iPad) so that I can access Nom Nom Paleo’s Cooking App. It is visually spectacular, chock-full of insanely good recipes, and really fun to play with. I do gripe sometimes about how involved Nom Nom’s recipes can be, or how so many of the involve super-expensive sous vide machines… but then I try a recipe out and finish almost all of it in a single sitting. Seriously – everything this lady cooks is aaaaammmmaaaazzzzinggggg.
Blogs. There are 1.4 million internet resources out there. Approximately 100 of them are reliable and maybe half of those are entertaining. Here are my favorite – free – Paleo resources on the web.
For the Adventurous Cook: Punchfork is a community food blog that bring the best Paleo-ish recipes to one location. You can sort by individual dietary restrictions or by general Paleo fare. It’s recently been acquired by Pinterest, so look for more this website to boom in the coming months
For Simple, Good-Looking Food: It doesn’t get much better than Health-Bent, whose mission is to produce Paleo foods that don’t look like dog food. And they do it well. I’ve rarely had to grocery shop for a single thing on their website – and everything has been a total hit with my non-Paleo friends (which is a very impressive feat).
For days when you need some MOTIVATION: Eating Paleo is not always a walk in the park. For those days when you feel like a sandwich, french fries, milkshake and beer are better than a roast chicken and CrossFit workout, I’d recommend checking out Smart. Sexy. Paleo. There’s nothing like a humorous dose of reality to remind you that we all have off-days and that success isn’t measured in absolutes, but in the small victories along the way.
For the Nerd in you: For easy, digestible facts about Paleo living (and a little bit of humor), you should head to Mark’s Daily Apple and Whole9 Life. Both blogs are comprehensive Paleo sites that cover just about any question you might have – and that will encourage you to be realistic about goals and lifestyle changes you’re bound to come across.