So, you decided to do the Paleo Challenge, good for you! Maybe you are resetting bad habits you picked up over the summer, maybe it’s the first time you have really taken a good look at what you and your family are eating or maybe it is the third or fourth time and you don’t know why it just won’t stick. In any event, making permanent changes isn’t always easy. Here are few things to remember as you begin the challenge:
1. Keep a Journal – During the challenge, you will be asked to post photos of your meals and your food. You will get very good at using pic stitch to put your daily meals together, but you will also become an expert in photographing challenge-approved food. That means some of your little cheats won’t make the dailies. That’s okay, nobody is perfect. When you feel like sliding into old patterns, reach for your pen instead of into the fridge.
While eating is necessary for life, much of our current cultural eating is as a result of an emotional response. As you go through your day, jot down your feelings along with your meals. Do you eat to alleviate any given emotion – stress, anxiety, depression, fear, loneliness, being overwhelmed, confused, ashamed?
TIP: Track your emotions as well as your food and see what connections you can find.
2. Take Responsibility – When you first started in CrossFit, you had to go through basics. Fury trainers needed you to have a fundamental understanding of CrossFit before we put you under a bar. Once you got under a bar, trainers cued you in various aspects of the lift or movement until you were able to handle more weight and complex movements. It took time, practice and failing and beginning again.
The same is true for your nutrition. We need a basic and fundamental knowledge of food before we can appreciate the long term benefits. Taking responsibility for our bodies doesn’t just affect our squat, it affects how our bodies work, how they run and how we fuel them for optimum performance. You spend several days a week tweaking small movements so that you move better and healthier, spending time meal planning and prepping is just as important.
TIP: Your body is your responsibility, setting boundaries in fitness and in nutrition is vital to your long term health and benefits more than just your waistline.
3. Track Time and Money – The biggest excuses that sabotage a healthy diet are the perceived lack of time and money. Healthy food costs money and it takes time to prep food that doesn’t come from a box. It’s that simple. Do you have the time and the money to feel better? Do you have more money after you stop spending on soda, various nutrition related medications, trips to doctor’s offices and pharmacies? How much time do you have left in your day when you decide to not watch that show until midnight or set a boundary in an unhealthy friendship or relationship? It comes down to choices.
TIP: Remember that journal? Write down where you spend your time and money, look for patterns.
4. Connect with your Community – You aren’t the only one making life changes, many people have successfully made forever changes to their nutritional habits. Use your community. Find out when other members are going into the gym to get in their extra workouts and tackle it together. Try new recipes other people are posting. Ask other members when they prep their food for the week or what they do in a pinch when they have to eat out.
TIP: You will have better success when you plug into your community and not try to go it alone.
5. Ask for Help – Your nutrition might be the first step to becoming a healthier person, but some things are beyond the scope of a CrossFit trainer. In that case, maybe you need to seek professional help. You may need emotional support in addition to nutritional support – that’s okay. There are professionals who specialize in this area and can help while you begin this process so you are successful during the challenge and far beyond.
TIP: This is life change and you are worth it.
This nutritional challenge may be the beginning for you, but make it more than food. Learn not only about where your food comes from and what it is made of, but understand your own personal relationship with food to create lasting life change and long term health benefits.
Priscilla Tallman is Fury’s Staff Writer and Chief Storyteller through athlete profiles, event write-ups and social media. She holds her Crossfit L1 cert as well as the CrossFit Mobility Certification and an undergraduate and graduate degree in Clinical Psychology. She teaches mobility class at Fury and is a freelance writer and blogger in her spare time. She is married with two children and in a former life played collegiate and professional volleyball.