10 Do's and Don'ts When Starting a Paleo Challenge
By: Stephanie Whiting
So you decided to jump into your gym’s Paleo Challenge? Here’s a few tips to help you get through it.
1.      DON’T do it all at once. A lot of people smarter than I are going to disagree about this one, but I stand by it. Will a strict diet make you healthier faster, with better results? Sure, for the 2% of you who actually do it, and who CONTINUE to do it after the challenge. But what about the normal folks? For us, it’s going to require a serious change of thinking, shopping and eating. That kind of change generally takes more than a month. Just pick one thing wrong with your diet and fix it (eliminating sugar would be a good place to start). When that is under control, pick another thing to work on. Remember, it’s not about losing ten pounds, it’s about putting real food in your body instead of empty calories.
2.     DON’T believe everything you hear. Do your own research — trust me, there’s plenty out there — and come to your own conclusions. Study the science behind the rules, so that when someone asks you why you don’t eat grains, you can give an intelligent answer. This is also important so that you know why you shouldn’t have that pasta salad that looks so yummy.
3.     DON’T stress about points, unless you’re just in it for the competition. True, it’s fun to beat your buddies, but at least try to stay focused on the point, not the points. Nutrition is more important than a 30-day challenge.
4.      DO write down what you eat. This was actually a really fun part of my first Paleo Challenge. I never really realized some of the peculiarities of my eating habits until I logged my meals.
5.     DO try new foods. Pomegranate, asparagus, avocado, oysters — if you look, you’ll probably realize that there’s a whole world of foods you’ve never tried. Try shopping at a new grocery store to see what else is out there!
6.      DO drink water. A lot of it. All by itself. ‘Nuff said, right?
7.     DO talk about your Paleo Challenge. Think about it, obsess over it the way you obsess over your WOD’s. Write about it in your blog, take pictures of the new dishes you make, and have fun with it. Invite your non-Paleo friends over for dinner and show them what it’s like. Keep up with the popular Paleo bloggers, and get into the “lifestyle” of it. These are the kinds of things that will keep you motivated in the long run, not the points you earn for “obeying the rules.”
8.     DO pay attention to the amount of sleep you are getting. It can make a tremendous difference in your mood and in your health.
9.     DON’T get distracted by the word “diet.” Some people call it a Paleo diet. Diet just means the stuff you eat, although it bears with it the unfortunate stigma of gimmicky, cheap marketing. That’s not what Paleo is about, nor CrossFit. It’s fair to be skeptical, but don’t let that keep you from making real changes.
DON’T give up. If you’re truly persuaded that nutrition is important, and that your current diet of disgusting crap isn’t cutting it anymore, then you’re in it for the long haul. Like everything, practice makes perfect and no one gets something perfect the first time. So you failed today (which is something most CrossFitters are used to by now, it’s part of what we do); that just means that you’re actually pushing yourself to do something difficult. Be confident that you will improve. Eating real food in our culture isn’t easy, but it’s doable if you want it.