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Wednesday, January 26, 2011


For a while now, my wife has been touting the virtues of this thing called the Paleo Diet. She got the idea from her brother and sister-in-law, who in turn got it (so I understand) from working with Crossfit. So, let's take it back just a bit.

Crossfit is basically an insane gym where functional muscle building takes precedence over things like treadmills and ellipticals. There are many different forms of the same workout that are now making their rounds, including (from what I can tell) P90X. If you've seen the movie 300, the Spartans did this sort of workout in order to get in shape for the film. Impressive stuff.

I've tried some Crossfit things in the past, but I've never really been able to stick with it for more than a couple weeks, mostly because we did not have the equipment or the community required to maintain a steady regimine. It's a lot harder to break yourself down in your apartment alone than it is to do so with trainers standing by encouraging you. We'd just join the gym, but it is incredibly expensive. And anyway, I've always liked running more, so I'm glad to be doing that.

Now, one of the things that Crossfit encourages is a change in diet, and their recommended meal plan is called Paleo. Keep in mind, I'm getting most of this stuff second-hand, so some of my details might be off, but you'll get the general idea.

First, let me clarify what I mean by "diet." I do not mean that I am on a diet, as in I'm trying to lose weight. I use the word "diet" to mean "way of eating" in general. This isn't just a way to lose excess weight (though it helps do that, too), it's a change in lifestyle.

The basic premise, I've been told, is that paleolithic humas had incredibly good health, and many of the diseases that plague people today, especially sugar-based diseases like diabetes, simply did not exist. It was not until they started farming that these things began to develop. Essentially, the goal of Paleo living is to remove oneself as far as possible from processed foods.

This sounds pretty standard when you think about avoiding meat with hormones, excess sugar, and things like that. What knocked me over, though, is this: all wheat and dairy products are processed, simply by their nature. The Paleo Diet does not include these things.

As someone who routinely takes down a box of macaroni and cheese by myself, this would be enough to make me say no. I love pasta. I love cheese. I love pop and candy and beer and all of the things that you cannot have in this lifestyle. Truly, when it was first explained to me, it sounded like the last of all possible things I would ever want to do.

Still, it's difficult to argue with the results that I have seen in others. Don't get me wrong, I am very skeptical, but there is enough evidence to support the idea that I'm willing to give it a shot.

So, for the next 28 days, the wife and I will be living the Paleo lifestyle. Lots of meat, vegetables, and fruit, and not too much else.

The craziest thing about it all so far is that I have not had anything with caffeine in it for almost three days. Anyone who knows me knows how insane that is. In college, I used to drink it by the 2-Liter. I've had a pretty steady stream of caffeine in my system for I don't know how many years, and here I am, 68 hours without, and I'm feeling fine. If nothing else, I'm glad for that.

There should be implications for my running as well. I've heard good things about distance runners who do the program correctly. Then again, I've gotten a pretty one-sided argument thus far. I'll be reading the book The Paleo Solution over the next few days to get more educated on the issue, and throughout the next four weeks, I'm sure I'll look around at both positive and negative feedback to see what others are saying and to see how much I agree with.

For now, I'm just going to eat my hamburger and be happy.

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